With the emergence of President Good luck Jonathan as the PDP presidential flag bearer, there has been a lot of well meaning and destructive comments by Nigerians and Northerners in general. I wish to draw the attention of my fellow Northerners to fact that the PDP primaries that saw GEJ emerge as the PDP presidential flag bearer is a good omen to the North and Northerners.
Identifying the “North” as an entity is necessary at this stage. What and where is the real and authentic Northern Nigeria? There are many ways in which the North can be defined. The “North” can defined by it’s history, natural endowments,people,human resources, compass direction, geography and political antecedents.
As at the 13th Century, this region was inhabited by peoples of mixed Arab, Hermitic and Negro blood. Then about this time came the rise of Songhai and the appearance of city-states in Hausa land (northern Nigeria), Hausa kings began accepting Islam, in 1465,there was the accession of a Hausa ruler Muhammed Rumfa of Kano in 1499.He introduces new methods of administration. He commissions scholar Al-Maghili to write Obligations of Princes.
In 1575,the Hausa’s revolted against Songhai, between 1670 and 1703 Tuaregs began raiding Northern Nigeria, then in 1764,Zamfara was defeated byGobir,while Katsina came under threat. In 1802,came the. conquest of Hausa by Fulani chief Usuman (Othman) dan Fodio, intervening on behalf of a number of Moslems who had been enslaved. The king of Gobir orders the arrest of Usuman who raises a revolt.Usman supported by the Fulani’s and some Hausa states, defeats Gobir and goes on to conquer the rest of the Hausa states. Some time around 1804-1811, a Jihad was launched by Danfodio and,Bello becomes the first Sultan of Sokoto. He organizes the Fulani tribes into a loosely organized “empire” (Hausalands); begins reforms to modernize theHausa culture..Borno was however not conquered. Bornu is overrun but quickly regains its independence. It is saved by Lamido (Mohammed al-Amin al-Kanemi) of Fezzan., who drives the Fulani from Bornu, restoring the Mai as titular ruler but governing the country himself. Fulani emirs were appointed rulers of the Hausa states.
Sometime in 1835,the Lamido died. His son Omar assummed power by assassinating the Mai of Borno,He then became the Shehu of Borno.Between 1850-1855, Heinrich Barth crosses the Sahara and visits Bornu and the Hausa lands.In 1879 Treaties are signed with the river tribes of the Niger and Benue with the Fulani sultan of Sokoto.In 1886, Sir George Goldie’s company, the Royal Niger Company was granted a Royal Chater,but most of the Fulani territory was beyond its control. The southern part of Nigeria under control the Royal Niger Company, disputes with the French on the western frontier begins a few years of tension. The Brass people, also, have been complaining against the Royal Niger Company. So (1 Jan 1900) the company’s charter is revoked and the government assumes direct control. The delta land along the lower reaches of the Niger are added to the Niger coast protectorate, that is; Southern Nigeria. The north, including the state of Ilorin, becomes the Protectorate of Northern Nigeria.The Fulani retain their independence and slave
In 1901,the emirs of Kontagora,Nupe(Bida) and Adamawa were removed. In 1902,the French deposed Bukarami of Borno,replacing him with his brother Barbai Bukarami.Bauchi came under British control on the 3rd of February 1903,then Kano and Sokoto were taken. May 1st 1905,Lagos was added to Southern Nigeria and the whole thing was renamed protectorate of Southern Nigeria. In 1912,Sir Frederick Lugard became the Governor of Northern and Southern Nigeria.1st January 1914,Northern and Southern Nigeria were united as a British colony and protectorate of Nigeria.
Historically,this is how the concept of an entity called “Northern Nigeria” emerged. Recent developments in the Nigerian political turf tends to signal a fractured “North”, who’s destiny seems to have come under threat as a Southerner becomes the presidential flag bearer of the ruling PDP.The main reason we Northerners feel scared and intimidated with the emergence of a Southerner is simply because we have as a result of our omission or commission through the excesses of our elites, compromised our people.
Our political setbacks are also as a result of internal schisms and deep rooted hostility which has made us loose stamina and inertia to pursue issues of vital interest to the region. We have displayed a consistent lack of firmness and resolve to halt religious intolerance and social vices such as street begging. We behave as if we have no stake in the success or failure of Nigeria, our attitude to National debates is often marred with religious sentiments as it happened in the last Constitutional Conference where Northerners saw Mathew Kukah(a Northerner) as a Christian rather than a Northerner
We have removed ourselves from many spheres of National life. In the area of Education, we are dangerously retrogressing, and without Education ,healthy competition in Industry,commerce,trade and other endeavors becomes impossible..The North is generally absent. The North has failed to position herself in the scheme of things, rather we are content with the fringes rather than the main action. Why call ourselves Northerners when our values,character,goals,vision do not reflect the concept or notion of one North one destiny? As a destiny or polity, can we say that we have that enterprise, that resilience, that stamina to overcome the formidable obstacles facing us without religious or ethnic sentiments?
This is the opportunity that the emergence of GEJ as PDP presidential flag bearer has provided for we Northerners. We saw a free, fair and transparent party primaries that had no ethnic colouration,a primary devoid of religious sentiments, a primary where Northern delegates voted for a non-Muslim, a primary that sentiments played no role, a primary where Northern delegates by their votes, spoke their minds-enough is enough, a primary where a presumed monolithic North has been dymystified.Yes a primaries that Northerners have said NO to the conservative North.
The time has come fellow Northerners to stand up and be counted in the scheme of things, the time has come for us to remove those conservative cloths, this is the time to say no to ethnicity, this is the time to say no to religious intolerance. It is time to get up and stand up to those noise makers, rabble rouser’s, riff-raffs and blackmailers.GEJ’s victory is a victory for the North and Northerners.