Politics seems to attract the most attention all over the world, in Europe, America, Asia, Africa and even the Caribbean countries. Aside education and football that have come so close in terms of popularity, politics seems to be indispensable in the history of nations.
The case is not different in Nigeria irrespective of other concerns that have been swinging the country’s political system in recent times. The former British colony gained her independence on October 1, 1960 and has experienced various political turmoil and manipulations from the subsequent government to date. Come October 1, 2010, Nigeria would be 50 years old as an independent nation and has witnessed 14 presidents, both military and civilian. Nine of the 14 former leaders emanated from the northern Nigeria while five are from the southern Nigeria.
The northern Nigeria has had its slot for 39years while the southern Nigeria has had it for 11years. Nigerian government has witnessed many years of military dictatorship while the civilian government of Alhaji Shehu Usman Aliyu Shagari of the republic in December 31, 1983 was truncated by the military government of Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari which also witnessed a short regime toppled by the Gen. Ibrahim Badamosi Bagangida in August 27, 1985.
Babangida remained in power until August 26, 1993when the then military president handed over to the head of Interim National Government Chief Ernest Shonekan that was kicked out of office after three months by the Abacha regime in November 17, 1993. By June 8, 1998 Gen. Abacha met the cold hand of death and that led to end of the regime of the military dictator and as a matter of fact, his government is adjudged the worst military regime Nigeria ever witnessed.
Gen. Adulsalami Abubakar took the centre for a year and again for the second time in the history of Nigerian military regime, handed over power to a democratically elected government (in code) in May 29, 1999 to no one else than the retired General Olusegun Obasanjo who’s tenure lasted till May 29, 2007. A new leadership emerged still on the platform of the ruling PDP in the person of Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua who died in office as the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on May 5, 2010 while his deputy Dr. Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan was formally sworn in as demanded by the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria on May 6, 2010.
Prior to the current democratic dispensation, Nigeria’s democracy was determined on the basis of compassion. In 1998, the few cabals in government sat and determined which of the six geo-political zones should merit the compassion of democracy, the search was done and the lot fell on the south-west (the Yorubas) to be precise, and specifically to compensate the annulled June 12, 1993 presidential election alleged to have been worn by the late business mogul Chief M.K.O Abiola. On the above consideration, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo was favoured in the south-west to lead the country for four years for a start and another four years if he wins the second term in 2003.
After Obasanjo’s eight years in government, the ruling PDP and the northern Nigerians insisted that power must return to the north if the unity of the country must continue, alleging that prior to the emergence of Obasanjo as the president in 1998, the PDP had a gentle man’s agreement to recycle power between the south and the north, behold power went back to the north while all the PDP governors who paraded themselves as aspirants resigned on the eve of the PDP primaries after being showed red card by the then president with a threat that EFCC will go after any of them who refused to back out of the race. With these developments, the pace was set for Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’adua and he eventually became the president in May 29, 2007. The president who was battling with series of ailments finally was flown out of the country far away Saudi Arabia for medical treatment that resulted to his death on May 5, 2010 and afterward succeeded by his deputy Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.
During the second tenure of Chief Obasanjo and throughout the administration of the late Yar’adua, the entire Niger Delta axis knew no peace, Oil pipe lines were blown up on daily basis, expatriates were kidnapped in dozens while the teaming youth of the zonetook to arms. Oil production went down the drain and insecurity was the order of the day. The political and economic terrain of the country grew into a deteriorating stage until the then president Umaru Musa Yar’adua announced the amnesty programme for the militants who had taken over the oil-rich Niger Delta area of the south-south geo-political zone but today peace is returning the once unstable region, arms are surrendered, oil firms have returned to extraction sites.
2011 general elections is by the corner, the northerners are insisting that presidency must be zoned exclusive to the region, where all the 52 registered political parties who intend to field candidate for the office of the president comes 2011 must present an Hausa presidential candidate (a northerner) as the only condition for the continuity of Nigeria as a nation. Contrary to the demand of the northerners, the southerners are persuading Goodluck Jonathan to contest the next coming election, insisting that his rise to power is divine and should not be cut short by man. The ex-militants are also insisting Jonathan or no Nigeria while a good number of women all over the country are threatening to deny their husbands sex if Jonathan fails to declare and run for the presidency next year.
Whether it is the north threatening the south or the south threatening the north, Nigeria is in a moment of harsh political conflict that requires a drastic political measure. In the words of Harold Laswell, Politics is all about who gets what, when and how! In much modern political writing power is taken to be the central problem of politics and it is no doubt true that whatever political suffering, we endure can be interpreted as resulting from abuse of power. If democracy is taken to be a popular machine of government, then abuse of power must mean that the machine is in dire need of improvement or repair.
If our democracy was founded on the basis of compassion and the axe fell on the south-west to compensate for the annulled June 12, the compassionate axe of Nigerian democracy is in no other place according to the Niger-Deltans except in the south-south geo-political zone.
For the fact that a person or a particular section of the society is used to power and finds it difficult to relinquish same, does not mean that he has a monopoly of power or that democratic concepts are hinged absolutely within its personal understanding. Nigeria is not Zimbabwe, Libya or other low-priced African countries where the constitution is the personal black book of the ruler. If democratic decision that will move the country forward is not put into shape before the next election and our democracy is not clearly defined to know if it is compassionate democracy or zoning democracy, I’ m afraid the word of Mamman Ghadafi may come to pass and Nigeria may split into pieces.