Segun James wonders if Mamman Daura was speaking the mind of influential northerners when he posited that the north may no longer honour the mutual agreement to rotate power between the north and the south
Paradoxes abound in politics. It is said that for every hypothesis, the opposite is also true. It is not surprising that he polity is getting hot with different events geared towards the 2023 election takes are feverish turn.
President Muhammadu Buhari began his government with an impassioned plea for understanding by Nigerians, even as he made it clear that he intended to be his own man - I belong to no one, I belong to every body, he said.
Five years after the optimism that heralded his coming, Buhari who rode to power on a nationalism passion is beginning to show a different face. Since his coming the political situation in the country has become frighteningly chaotic. The country is close to sliding into a full scale banana republic as atrocious acts linked to his ethnic Fulani kinsmen have become more daring.
Recently, there was a bombshell iof an nterview with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) by the nephew of the President, Malam Mamman Daura. In the interview, the 80 year old former journalist, who still lives with his uncle with his family, declared that the north may no longer respect the gentleman's agreement reached with the south on the rotation of the presidency between the northern and southern political zones.
No doubt, the outbursts has thrown the polity into disarray. Words matter or as Nigerians may have found out, Daura may indeed be saying the mind of the north as the nation races towards the 2023 election which will determine the continued stay of the country as one nation.
Daura is the most influential figure around the President. He said he preferred Buhari's successor in 2023 to be chosen based on competence and not via zoning, an unwritten political arrangement between political leaders from the north and south that rotates power between the regions every eight years. Buhari, from Katsina State, northern Nigeria, will complete his final term on May 29, 2023.
Rage can be cathartic and constructive. The outrage shown by Nigerians from the southern zone can be understood. But it was the long silence from the north that is palpable and the late denial by the presidency that is telling.
When Daura said that the presidency should not be zoned any longer, it was a repeat of what Alhaji Shehu Malami said 38 years ago in similar circumstances. Malami had come out to say that the presidency is not for sale. He told Chief Moshood Abiola that he should not think of contesting the presidency with Alhaji Shehu Shagari under the banner of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN), the dominant party between 1979 and 1983.
That Malami got away with his outburst is understandable, given the fact the Abiola wanted to contest with an incumbent President who still had an opportunity for a second term. That however is not the situation this time around. Buhari will be completing his second and final term in 2023 when power is expected to change hands in respect of the rotational agreement that is standing in the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Following the rage arising from Daura's statement, the presidency has came out with a statement that Daura does not represent the President. President Muhammadu Buhari's spokesman, Garba Shehu, said the views expressed by Daura are his personal views and does not in any way reflect that of the president or his administration.
Garba's Saturday statement reads:
We have received numerous requests for comments on the interview granted by Malam Mamman Daura, President Muhammadu Buhari's nephew to the BBC Hausa Service.
"It is important that we state from the onset that as mentioned by the interviewee, the views expressed were personal to him and did not, in any way, reflect that of either the President or his administration.
"At age 80, and having served as editor and managing director of one of this country's most influential newspapers, the New Nigerian, certainly, Malam Mamman qualifies as an elder statesman with a national duty to hold perspectives and disseminate them as guaranteed under our constitution and laws of the land. He does not need the permission or clearance of anyone to exercise this right.
"In an attempt to circulate the content of the interview to a wider audience, the English translation clearly did no justice to the interview, which was granted in Hausa, and as a result, the context was mixed up and new meanings were introduced and/or not properly articulated.
"The issues discussed during the interview, centred around themes on how the country could birth an appropriate process of political dialogue, leading to an evaluation, assessment and a democratic outcome that would serve the best interest of the average Nigerian irrespective of where they come from.
"These issues remain at the heart of our evolving and young democracy, and as a veteran journalist, scholar and statesman, Malam Mamman has seen enough to add his voice to those of many other participants."
However, the denial seemed an after thought and may actually indicate the President's thinking as his body language points to the same direction. What's more, nobody can deny Daura's influence in this government; which has been so overbearing that even the President's wife was forced to cry out
The labyrinthine complexities of political maneuvering in Nigeria have taken a muster turn with two apparently contradictory developments. The decision of the Yoruba people to ensure that the economic base of the nation remains with their people so that they can use it as a leverage to political ascendancy; and the desire of the north to remain the political overlord of the nation. The southeast and the other minority ethnic nationalities seemed to have not been considered in the scheme of things.
How high can the Fulani go in entrenching their dominance on the polity by putting their people in every conceivable political positions? That's the question. Five years into the government of Buhari, this has not manifested into any advantage for the region. All it has succeeded in doing is empower individuals.
To the south, this does not show any advantage as the north has continued to be left behind - educationally and economically. To them, the only thing that the northern political dominance has achieved is to further divide the nation along ethnic lines. They also complain that incompetent individual and less experienced persons are being promoted above their better qualified southern peers.
But one of the peculiar things about the government is the extraordinary frequency with which people of northern extraction, especially the Fulani are being promoted regardless of ability, capability and experience.
It is easy to look upon politics with despair, especially if you are responsible for ensuring that your party complies with the rules. That is the dilemma of APC leaders since the Daura statement.
Geopolitical risk, such as the Fulani dominance on the polity has taken a center stage of the nation's polity. President Buhari has returned to his familiar turf, silence on critical political issues. And in politics, silence means consent.
As reactions continues to trail the Dauru interview, elder statesman, Chief Ayo Adebanjo has dismissed the Daura's position as rabble rousing, saying Nigeria must be restructured now through a change in the constitution.
According to him, the question of zoning can only be sorted out if there is a constitution changed before the next election, warning that unless this is done, the country may break up.
He insisted that the outburst by Daura is rabble-rousing and another attempt to deceive the people. "They are just deceiving themselves. We are are operating a constitution we didn't approve. Unless we change the constitution, there can be no election or zoning. The way out is through restructuring. The military constitution create created states without standards, so how can it work? The constitution is a military imposition. Nobody can deceive me on that."
He dismissed the Daura interview as inconsequential, saying that the until the constitution is rectified, zoning and election in 2023 will be an exercise in futility.
In his own reaction, the spokesman for the Pan-Yuruba sociopolitical organisation, Afenifere, Mr. Yinka Odumakin said the Daura interview has exposes the deceit of the north and it's selfish agenda.
"It is amusing to see those who were singing zoning or tearing down of Nigeria before 2015 are now the apostles of competence after taking eight years. This is is the most selfish orchestra.
"And this same group have opposed true federalism that would make people comfortable without rotation of the highest office in the land. With the unjust advantages of the Buhari years, some of our compatriots are developing the idea that that is the best country to have without thinking of the implication.
"There is no hope for Nigeria under this structure. IF we go back to Federalism, the internecine battle for the control of the Centre will definitely go down," he stressed.
Also reacting, the spokesman for Lagos APC. Mr. Seye Oladejo, sees the issue as a storm in a tea cup, stressing that the issue would be sorted out with time.
Said he: "I believe they are just testing the waters and feeling our pulse. Everything will be sorted out in the fullness of time.
To Mr. Princelyn Oduenyi, a political analyst, "my take is simple. Let's wait and see. Mamman,like every other,is entitled to his views. But let him be reminded that his uncle, the current President wouldn't have succeeded or become a President if truly merit is the order. Why sing a new song today? I don't blame them at all but the bootlickers who always align with them at the detriment of other Southerners. Down South, we have better and more qualified Nigerians than the north. So what is he talking about.
With the political tension enveloping the country following the Daura outburst, Nigeria does look like a country on the verge of imploding. Since the country has not suffered any upheaval that threatens its corporate existence since the 1967-1970 civil war, it seems that some people may be taking the people for granted.
Daura is the most influential figure around the President. He said he preferred Buhari's successor in 2023 to be chosen based on competence and not via zoning, an unwritten political arrangement between political leaders from the north and south that rotates power between the regions every eight years. Buhari, from Katsina State, northern Nigeria, will complete his final term on May 29, 2023. When Daura said that the presidency should not be zoned any longer, it was a repeat of what Alhaji Shehu Malami said 38 years ago in similar circumstances. Malami had come out to say that the presidency is not for sale. He told Chief Moshood Abiola that he should not think of contesting the presidency with Alhaji Shehu Shagari under the banner of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN), the dominant party between 1979 and 1983