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Tribune Online
Northerners understand political terrain better —Idachaba

Dr Enema Umar Idachaba is a senior lecturer in the Department of Political Science, University of Ibadan. In this interview by SUNDAY ADEPOJU, he speaks on 2023 presidency and Nigeria’s quest for the attainment of nationhood.

 

Fifty years after civil war, can we say that Nigeria is still in search for nationhood?

Yes, Nigeria is still searching because there are so many issues ranging from the nature of federal arrangement, the nature of our representation in the important positions in the Nigerian state. And also on the issue of our presidential arrangements.

 

Is anything faulty in the presidential arrangement in the country?

The presidential arrangement is in such a way that it is very contentious. The point I’m making is that most of the regions constituting Nigeria are not adequately represented in terms of who becomes president. It is so haphazard that we don’t really know where we are heading as a country. This is because some extractions of the state are being banned completely from attaining that seat. I’m saying that some extractions have been marginalised and this has been the case even donkey years ago.

 

What are those things that must be in place for Nigeria to be called, in reality, a nation?

Yes, we need to have a culture of accommodation. Because Nigeria, as I know today, constitutes many nations with different backgrounds and opinions about how the state should grow. So, by these, Nigeria resembles a nation. But, it is not.

 

Nigeria is still grappling with some of the challenges that led to the civil war. Do you agree with that?

I agree with that. The Igbo are still having feelings of being marginalised because they are not sure of whether they will ever become the president because of the historical incident of civil war, a bloody one for that matter. And that offence seems to be an unforgiving one that…especially the northerners are not ready to forgive Biafra for that singular act of civil war. You know that Biafrans were trying to secede.

 

There is this assumption that the people from the North believe they are born to rule. Do you agree with that?  

No, I don’t think so and I don’t agree. What I think they are saying is that they (the Hausa) understand the Nigerian politics more than people from any other part of the country. They understand the politics and the terrain perfectly well, they understand the nature of the country by virtue of their being very close to the former colonial masters and they tend to direct the Nigerian politics.

 

After the civil war and even now, has the strategy of the 3Rs – Reconciliation, Reconstruction and Rehabilitation – by the Gowon administration recorded the desired achievement?

It has achieved it to some extent especially through that principle of the 3Rs, they are able to bring the Biafrans back to the fold of the Nigerian state. Because I prefer to call Nigeria state rather than nation. The grievances and what led to the civil war fought between 1967 and 1970 in the first place have not been completely erased. And there are still the instances of the activities of the Indigenous People of Biafra, the Niger Delta Avengers, and the likes, are still points of reference today.

 

Successive administrations have organised national conferences to produce an acceptable constitution for the country. Do you think those conferences have, in a way,  achieved the desired results?

So far, they are yet to achieve; very far from it because nothing has changed even after all those conferences and those sovereign national arrangement. Nothing has manifested to show that things have changed. Things remain the same in the sense that the Igbo are still protesting marginalisation since that time. They have not been able to ascend the topmost power seat in the state called Nigeria. They are still nursing that wound.

 

It has been said that for equity, fairness, justice and national unity in 2023, the presidency should go to South-East geopolitical zone. What is your take on that?

Maybe that is the long awaited change. That, I think, will bring a lot of issues. The change in that line of argument will be fundamental. We just need to wait and see. But I can say categorically that South-East 2023 presidency is not achievable because those arguing and agitating for the position are in the minority. And I don’t think this will go down well with those in the majority that still want South-East to still be punished further to learn their lesson. I am arguing from the perspective of their not really achieving the feat. I don’t see the 2023 South-East happen. This is because there some entrenched interests that will not allow that to happen.

 

What are those interests that will not allow the 2023 South-East presidency happen?

It is being argued that the Igbos, an ethnic group of the South -East of this country, have always not interested in going along with the other ethnic groups and the unity of the country. Some people perceive that their interest basically is all about secession from the federation and the recurrent agitation for Biafra. The question is: how safe will it be for you to give such mantle of leadership of a state that they don’t want to be part to the group? No, I don’t see it happen. I’m not saying that they don’t deserve it especially for equity, fairness, justice and national unity.  Again, at some quarters, the ethnic group has said unprintable words about the unity of this country. Sure, they have referred to the country as a “zoo of animals.”  Will the powers-that-be want them to taste the topmost seat in such “zoo of animals?” No, I don’t think so. Having said that, I think that doesn’t portray them as people that want to be part of the Nigerian State.

 

What can you say about the observance of the rule of law in the country?

We have rule of law. It is just that the problem we have is implementation, I mean practising it. The rule that we have in this country is on papers and in theory. And there is a very strong and wide gap between the practice of it and its theory in this country. And until gap disappears, we can’t be talking about the effective rule of law in Nigeria. And let me quickly say that for us, as a state, to achieve in our search for nationhood, the rule of law is very key. Another vital one is redistributive justice that is Justice must be done. Fairness, lack of marginalisation justice, effective distribution and allocation of powers and other essential things of life should be well distributed in our state for us to attain nationhood.

Northerners understand political terrain better —Idachaba
Tribune Online



source https://tribuneonlineng.com/northerners-understand-political-terrain-better-idachaba/

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