Mazrui is a scholar of inestimable value to Africa. You have to be in attendance at a forum where Mazrui performs to prove the accolade. I have had the privilege of watching him do what he knows best not only here in Nigeria on many occasions but also in far away Guyana. He was simply sweet, neat and magnetic. The facts and figures of Africa’s dilemma pour from his mouth, in turns and twists that are exclusively his trademark. It is my belief that anyone who does not take Mazrui seriously, even if he does not agree with the way he pushes his points, must package counters of equal weight or call on emotions for support of his opposition.
I do not know what to call on when the statement credited to Mazrui in Kano is analysed. He was quoted as saying at a lecture that the North committed a terrible blunder to have allowed political power to shift to the South. Power, he is said to have posited, is never surrendered voluntarily anywhere in the world, especially when it is the only bargaining weapon you have. To him, the North has the political power and the South, the economic power.
Mazrui has since denied making the statement. But looking at the denial, I did not see the difference between six and half a dozen. He said Nigeria and Uganda have the same experience of the south being in control of economic power and the north the political power. Alternation of political power is necessary in a democracy, he said, but stressed the need to also strive for economic balance between the two geographical poles. My deduction from this explanation is that it is ill-advised to concede political control of one part to the other if the balance of economic relation has not been addressed!
I am not here going to blame Mazrui for making the statement credited to him, but to question the thesis on the tongue and its role. Through this thesis, we have been misled over millennia, and I believe that we should for once put the tongue where it belongs in the order of things. James of the Bible says that “the tongue is like a fire. It is a world of wrong, occupying its place in our bodies and spreading evil through our whole being. It sets on fire the entire course of our existence with the fire that comes to it from hell itself. Man is able to tame and has tamed all other creatures – wild animals and birds, reptiles and fish. But no one has ever been able to tame the tongue. It is evil and uncontrollable, full of deadly poison”.
Look at your tongue and ask your friends to look at their tongues. Open any book on anatomy and study what is written about the tongue. Ask the dictionary what the tongue is and it will tell you that it is “a fleshy movable process of the floor of the mouth used in tasting and in taking and swallowing food and in man as a speech organ”. Both man and animal have tongues, but it is man’s tongue that is a speech organ. Is anything thus there about it being any more than a weapon, a tool? Whose tool is the tongue? Is the tongue independent of the people who use it? Has a television set any objectivity other than the fact that it is a mechanical contraption for receiving messages from a broadcasting station? Is it not the broadcasts of NTA that make it what it is, just like the broadcasts of AIT and DBN and Minaj and Channels make them what they are seen to stand for? Do they not all come through the same television set in your room? And don’t you switch from one station to the other if you do not buy the ware being pushed by the station you are on to?
It is the place I give to the television set that I concede to the tongue. It is a receptacle for pushing out of us the worth and rut of ourselves. It is the messenger, the spokesman of our thoughts. A great deal of the time, it denies the place of God in our beings because it manifests the machinations of the Darkness which are the diluted and distorted massages of the soul. It is nearer the head than the heart. If the head had been more reliable in the transmission of the messages of the soul, we would enjoy the beauty of creation. But only snippets emerge in the head and even then, the influence of hell is ready to make the external environment suffer through what the tongue is forced to communicate. Did a knowing one not warn that anything beyond yes and no is evil?
Unless we are under hypnosis or we allow ourselves to be mediums for transmitting messages from God-knows-where, we are always answerable for those things the tongue pushes forth. So if the tongue reflects the fire that comes from Hell, it is simply because the soul that speaks is linked to Hell! So why must we blame the tongue? We should in fact pay homage to this weapon of deceit if for once we hear it relate what is there deep in our hearts, but which for so-called diplomatic reasons we cannot bring forth from our beings through speech. It is things of such import to our union in the Nigerian geographical space that should rightly point to what is the state of the nation, what we have failed to do, what we must do, how we must do it, et al.
In just 14 more years, we would be one hundred years old as integrated geographical space. I have said it many times over that in that period since 1914, we have shied away from integrating the more than 97,000 communities that live in that space. If we have been polarized enough to have to negotiate the tempo of living through deciding how to concede economic power to be part of the control of political power, then we must not continue to fail to address the problems of heterogeneous cultures. We have humanity and race in common in Nigeria. But what else? Is anybody going to deny that the nationality question has not been addressed; that the illusion of North and South are political weapons for narrowing disparities, but that when push comes to shove, the so-called North and South will be vapourized by intense nationality support? Are these nationality interests not overshooting the boundaries set since 1914 when the Middle Belt and the Niger Delta begin to set a common agenda?
Mazrui cannot be a scapegoat simply because he was just a tongue that pushed forth what has been lying there in the bellies of some of our nationals since the new dispensation began in May, 1999. Before the time bomb of intrigue explodes in our faces, we must sit round a table and address the path of national integration. I shall henceforth never miss any opportunity to push for a convergence of the political and cultural dimension to governance which I have placed at the senatorial district level. If we start with mobilizing our people at this sub-nationality level, we would before 2014 have taken giant steps towards integrating the people of this country. Only President Obasanjo can set the stage and hasten the pace. He has a maximum of seven years to do what we have not done in 86 years. God help him.
( Published in Vanguard of Sunday, September 3, 2000), Found on Page 124 – 126, (Democracy Watch, A Monitor’s Diary Vol 1)
The Task: Look back to Year 2000 and let’s talk about the state of the nation in the area of this so-called political and economic controls located at the doorsteps of the major nationality groups in Nigeria. Did President Obasanjo do enough to make effective the changes we asked for? This Looking Back is an opportunity for us to chat about Nigeria and what it should be like when we are 100 years old as integrated space in 1914. Be part of it, and send your summarized views to firstname.lastname@example.org or by text message to +234-8055069030. The future is born today.
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Kingsley Omose on Zoning: A Deteriorating Discourse
I have just read Professor Ango Abdullahi’s letter to Chief Edwin Clark which was published in the Vanguard of August 4, 2010 on the vexing zoning issue which continues to dominate public discourse, and coming from a former vice chancellor and the holder of a national honor, I must say that I am deeply trouble by the tone of the said letter
Ango Abdullahi starts by recalling the efforts of the Northern Union and the South-South to prevent Olusegun Obasanjo’s supposed bid to extend his tenure beyond two terms, and the ensuing agreement for both the Northern Union and the South-South leaders to support the emergence of a Nigerian President of northern extraction supported by a Vice-President of Ijaw extraction.
While the emergence in May 2007 of Umaru Yar’Adua as President and Goodluck Jonathan as Vice President appeared to meet the minimum expectations of the Northern Union and the Ijaw nation, Ango Abdullahi believes that adhering to the power rotation agreement would certainly have guaranteed the South-South zone the support of the North in producing the next president in 2015.
With the death of Umaru Yar’Adua and the refusal of the South-South leaders under the leadership of Edwin Clark to wait for its turn in 2015 obviously because of the ascension of Goodluck Jonathan as Nigeria’s President, Ango Abdullahi believes that both Goodluck Jonathan and the South-South are being led on a hazardous trail that would inevitably lead into a blind political alley in 2011.
He concludes by declaring that Goodluck Jonathan is destined to lose the fight against the legitimate right of the North, whatever that means, to produce Nigeria’s next president in May 2011 ensuring that the South-South zone would be shut out of the power equation in 2015 because of lack of support from the North, and for which Edwin Clark should take personal responsibility.
I noticed that Ango Abdullahi avoided making mention of the often touted but now worn out argument on the power rotation agreement of 1999 in which kingmakers from the North decided to concede political power to the South West to produce the president as compensation to the Yoruba’s for the unjust annulment of the election of Moshood Abiola, but his reasoning is still flawed.
First, the letter is written with a heavy dose of arrogance and generous assumptions that are not supported by prevailing realities such as those that have shown that men may conspire to achieve what is in their selfish interests but ultimately their plans will come to nothing such as in the case at hand where neither the Northern Union nor the South-South leaders factored in the role of death in 2007.
Second the letter undermines clear provisions of the Constitution that excludes sectional and religious considerations to determine eligibility for elective positions, and impliedly questions the need even for the conduct of elections every four years since the supposed application of the power rotation agreement would always produce already determined results.
Three, the letter also impliedly calls into question the possibility of the Independent National Electoral Commission being able to conduct free and fair elections, again since the supposed application of the power sharing arrangement would always produce results that have no bearing with the actual choice of Nigerians or the state of affairs in the nation.
Four, the letter also assumes a general naivety and docility on the part of Nigerians to vote in accordance with sectional and regional nomenclature and at the behest of sectional and religious leaders who like sheep can be driven in the desired direction, without the people being cable of determining what is in their best interest as a nation.
Five, the letter makes clear that the power rotation arrangement ordinarily allows for a turn by turn approach to elective positions with the primary beneficiaries being the political leaders from the region or zone holding power at the material time, and with the South-South zone embarking on a kamikaze or suicidal trail its peoples should hold Edwin Clark responsible for their expected wilderness experience.
Would any reasonably minded person want to live in an environment where the likes of Ango Abdullahi talk arrogantly using words such as “a power game, hazardous trail, political ally, destined to lose, your South-South, inevitable loss, great expense of the South-South zone, legitimate right to rule, enjoy our support”, to others unless they are talking to their enemies who belong to a different nation?
In conclusion, Ango Abdullahi’s letter and similar reasoning advanced by many others, have pushed me to reluctantly agree with those who say that the January 2011 general election would mark a watershed for the future of this nation, i.e. whether we will advance as a nation and as a people or will remain divided and await our own full blown crises like Kenya and Rawanda.
“We must be the change we want to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi