By Mike Ozekhome
The sudden unexpected kick by some Northern elites against the patriotic resolutions passed last week at a meeting held in Asaba, by the 17 Southern Governors of Nigeria is quite worrisome, but definitely uncalled for.
The kick is illegal, unconstitutional, and even immoral. I have since termed the Asaba resolutions the “ACCORD CONCORDIALE”. The sudden hoopla and ruckus seem to suggest that these few vocal elements are suddenly scared of certain manifold effects that the unanimous resolutions by the APC, PDP, Benin, Anioma, Yoruba, Igbo, Ijaw, Ikwerre, Ibibio and Efik leading lights may throw up. What are they afraid of? I do not know. Or, do you? But, let me do some guess work here.
They may probably be afraid that the South has finally woken up and shaken off its Stockholm Syndrome. I guess they are scared that the assumed long suffering ‘slaves’ of Nigeria may finally achieve their overdue liberation, liberty and freedom, and attain their independence from the asphyxiating grip of perpetual overlords, ‘slave’ masters, neo-colonialists and territorial expansionists.
Perhaps, theirs may be induced fear that the over-belaboured geese whose backside now aches sorely may finally stop laying the golden eggs for their domineering consumption and bacchanalian and self-centred ‘chop-chop-alone’ attitude. They may fear that under a true fiscal federation, anchored on the true principles of Federalism, everyone will now be required to contribute to the baking of the National cake and not just merely sharing it.
Let my fellow Nigerians please, remind these historical revisionists that we are not all suffering from collective amnesia like the Borbons of European history, that learnt nothing and forgot nothing. Let them know that we can clearly recall that it was the Northern governors that actually first set the ball rolling at their Virtual Meeting of 9th February 2021, about the urgent need to ban open grazing. Their communique was to the effect that open cattle grazing should be immediately abolished. The forum had then set up a four-man committee headed by its Chairman, Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State, to implement their decisions.
This meeting was immediately followed, upon the Northern governors’ prodding, by the 25th Virtual Meeting of all Nigerian Governors’ Forum, two days later, on 11th February 2021. It was presided over by its Chairman, Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State. At this meeting, all the 36 State Governors unanimously agreed to end nomadic rearing of cattle; to end open, night, and underage grazing in Nigeria, and to transit to ranching and other modern systems of animal husbandry, in view of its adverse security effects on the country. At this meeting, Gov Lalong even presented an update on the Northern governors’ steps at ending the scourge.
So, what has changed between February and May? Why the sudden and inexplicable Esan Egbabonalimhin acrobatic summersault by some of the same Northern elites? Why the dripping lachrymal effusion? What are they worried about? What do they know that the rest of us Nigerians don’t? Do they really want this country united under agreeable terms of social justice, equity, egalitarianism, mutual respect, and ethnic and religious tolerance? Have they ever read about the historic ABURI ACCORD in Aburi, Eastern Region of Ghana, hosted by Ghanaian Head of State, Lt-Gen Ankrah, between Federal Government delegates led by Lt Col Yakubu Gowon and Eastern Nigeria delegates led by Lt Colonel Odumegwu Ojukwu?
Are they aware that the three-year bloody fratricidal and genocidal civil war, which claimed over three million lives and unleashed misery and pains on Nigerians, especially Biafrans, finally broke out because of the insincerity that attended its implementation, especially with the passage of Decree No. 8 of 1967, which made a mockery of matters mutually arrived at and agreed upon?
Is the Senate President, Senator “take-a-bow” Ahmad Lawan, aware and conscious of the enormity of the functions and responsibilities of his revered office as the Head of one of the three arms of Government, and the number three citizen of Nigeria? Can he not help to salvage this drifting, compass less nation by simply dusting up the over 600 recommendations of the 2014 National Conference mutually agreed up and rolled out after six months of rigorous deliberations, by the 492 delegate-conferees, drawn from all strata, segments, professions and classes, of the Nigerian nation and ethnic Nationalities from across Nigeria?
Are Nigerians not seeing that the ship of state is fast sinking, while our President who does not even address his people, has again taken off to Paris, France, to attend the Financing Africa Summit. Is this not a case of Nero fiddling while Rome burns? God, you have always been a Nigerian and shown us mercy. Please, Baba, continue to remain one and save us from any doom and its cataclysm effect.
Chief Ozekhome, a human right activist and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) resides in Abuja, Nigeria.