Give it to the North; they get what they want at every turn while the South does the talking. Most radical ideas that had shaped Nigeria’s political landscape often originated from the South only to be perfected to an advantage by the North. For instance, while the South championed the struggle for independence, the North acted like she wasn’t ready and would rather remain under British domination. But from when the British lowered the Union Jack to date, it is the North that has dominated the South.
Another is the idea of Military coup. It was actually some Southern officers that executed Nigeria’s first military coup before the North perfected the art of coup plotting and used it to effectively entrench Northern domination. Almost all successful coups in Nigeria were hatched and executed by Northern officers.
Again, Nigeria started well on federalism until some group of Southerners introduced unitary government. The North shouted ‘Araba’ the Hausa translation for ‘ separation’ and insisted on true Federalism. But as soon as they seized power in the counter coup of 1966, they jettisoned true federalism and perfected Unitarianism to her advantage. Today, it is the South that is shouting true federalism.
Take again the question of Constitutional Democracy. This is a concept alien to both Islam and the oligarchy. While the South talks plenty of democracy, the North, which reluctantly embraced democracy, perfected the art of shaping democracy to its own advantage. Because they understood that democracy is a game of numbers they made sure they have a population they can easily manipulate and control using illiteracy and religion as a tool and make no apology for it.
One can go on and on to list how the North beat the South at all times in its game. Whether as a friend or a foe you must understand your opponent so as to engage properly. The inability of the South to read and understand the North is one of her biggest albatross.
Fast track to the current issue of restructuring, another idea currently advanced by the South as a remedy to save Nigeria from disintegration. The Southern proponents of restructuring believe that Nigeria is not functioning properly because the centre is saddled with too many responsibilities and powers. Restructuring means devolving more powers to the states.
Despite the clarity of this concept, somehow the North pretends it does not understand what restructuring is all about. To get the South busy with talking, they pretend that restructuring will put her at disadvantage or to say the least that it is an agenda to dismember Nigeria.
For these reasons, many Southerners have wrongly convinced themselves that the North will never give in to restructuring whereas the North in actual fact is getting ready for restructuring and is doing everything to perfect a restructured Nigeria to their advantage.
The import of this article is not to discredit the North for being wise and proactive but to warn the South especially the South East to get ready and prepare for restructuring or blame nobody for their lack of foresight.
The British who merged the North and South together has not abandoned the reason for the merger. They remain very sympathetic to the North hence western leaders like Gordon Brown, Tony Blair and John Kerry had at various times tutored Northern leaders and elites on how to reorganize the region for a post oil economy.
In late 2015 and mid 2016, the US Institute for Peace held series of strategy sessions strictly for Northern leaders on how best to prepare and re-energize the region for a post oil economy. The sessions agreed that restructuring is inevitable without which even the North will not survive. The sessions also harped on what the vulnerabilities of the northern region would be when restructuring occurs, and more importantly how to ensure that such vulnerabilities are dealt with well before restructuring.
One major vulnerability is the fact that the North is landlocked hence they were advised that the region would need alternative international trade access routes that do not depend on the south. This explains why President Buhari commenced building the ongoing high-speed railway lines designed to connect with the Niger Republic’s supply and logistics systems.
They were also advised that they needed to be independent of the South for petroleum products hence they went ahead with the project of building a completely new modern refinery in Daura, Katsina State. The Daura refinery is purposely built to refine Crude oil coming in from Niger Republic. The choice of Daura as a location is to reduce the cost of pipelines, as piping to the Kaduna refinery would have been very expensive. Daura shares a common border with Niger Republic.
Another major vulnerability is the fact that a significant proportion of Nigeria’s power generation and infrastructure is located in the South. It was suggested that the North would need to rebalance power generation, if it was to industrialize.
It is therefore not surprising that contracts were awarded to pipe gas from the South to pass through Ajaokuta to Abuja, Kaduna, and Kano (AKK) where three thermal stations will be built in each of the three cities with capacity to generate 4,500 MW of electricity. While at the face value this project may appear plausible for Nigeria, which can now export excess electricity to other African countries, the main objective however is to make the North electricity sufficient, and under restructuring will make the South to pay charges for passing power from any of the thermal stations to the South.
The North is also investing heavily in agriculture with a view to be in a position to not just feed her population but to export food to the South and other African countries. To boost agriculture, President Buhari did what no other government in Nigeria has been able to do.
e closed the land borders, and presented farmers with a great windfall. Massive incentives were provided to motivate Northern farmers. Northern farmers were provided with machinery and low interest loans through the CBN and the Bank of Agriculture to help stabilize the level of growth in agriculture.
I have taken time to reel out these few examples to debunk the laughable notion held by the South that the North will not give in to restructuring. That is far from the truth. The North understands restructuring perfectly well. They understand their vulnerabilities in case of restructuring and are light years ahead of the South in their proactive preparations.
I support restructuring for the singular reason that it will make Nigeria work better. Restructuring will bring government closer to the people, enhance development and ensure efficient and effective governance.
Rather than being emotional and wasting valuable time on empty rhetoric, the best legacy Southern leaders can bequeath her future generation is to put on their thinking caps and get to work. We must not think we have no vulnerabilities in a restructured Nigeria. That will be a fatal error on our side hence the need to use the opportunity of the current time to map out strategies that will rave and drive the economic and social development of the South post oil revenue.
The Youths who are the future of tomorrow must understand that the future they symbolize and represent is now. The only practical way they can be part of that future is to hold her elected political leaders accountable by making every single one of them and their families uncomfortable until the right things are done.