Opinion

The elite and politics of ethnicity

An early morning post to my personal Whatsapp messaging box from a respectable colleague had my eyes go dry at about three o’clock this morning.

It was an un-dated piece written by someone who, obviously, was a onetime top federal civil servant, but only identified himself as leader of a cultural association in the Middle-belt. He tried to convince his readers that the area is not part of the North. Over all, he offered nothing new on the subject other than manipulating facts and figures to suit his objective – which is to be recognised as a local champion in his community and in the eyes of a section of this country. He did not also spare the President with exaggerated hatred.

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I deduce that he has fallen in to the category of those who benefited the most from the system of a United Nigeria, but are now the leading flame blowers of hate through the promotion of ethnic and religious division amongst the people. Things were good for him and his type when they were at the helm or part of the ruling elite, but change gear and direction as soon as they retire or lose class-footing. The only way to remain relevant is by beating an empty drum to create innuendo; of imaginary domination by the North.

They are forgetting that in democracy, especially under the presidential system we borrowed from the United States, the executive has enormous powers provided by the constitution. Nothing so far, under the Buhari administration that was done unconstitutionally, otherwise, the National Assembly in which every community is represented would have impeached the President.

Besides, the system has its own checks and balances. A President, for instance, can serve for a maximum of only two terms, if he is Lucky to be re-elected. Therefore, citizens have a choice to vote out any leader after the first term if he performs below their expectation.

Apparently, President Buhari passed the test, and so, he was re-elected. In any case the next presidential election comes up in March 2023, which is just 23 months away and Nigerians hold the ticket of who occupies Aso Rock next.

I believe Mr Middle-belt has surpassed all other mischief makers against this administration when he alleged that the President is only working for the North. It is no secret that the North has been crying its eyes out, lamenting that the region is the least beneficiary of the Buhari government despite its massive votes that made it possible for the President to be re-elected. And it is difficult to fault this thinking, considering the fact that since 2015, nearly 70 percent of all developmental projects embarked upon by this administration, were sited in the South, with the Southwest carting away the lion share.

Overall, it is the case of who makes the most noise, gets the listening ear. Ninety percent of the country’s media establishments are owned by Southerners and therefore get to dictate the national tune, including giving platform to mischief makers like Mr Middle-belt.

Many among them are not interested in promoting national unity, but what serves their own interest. And what a better way of getting the federal government’s attention than through blackmail as some openly do, through various methods ranging from promoting hate speech to promoting militancy and ethnic jingoism.

Nobody says democracy has the answer to everything, but even if you review the Nigerian constitution a thousand times, it will never satisfy everyone.

It is high time for the elite to reflect on the unlimited privileges they have been enjoying and continues to enjoy even while in retirement, courtesy of one, united and indivisible Nigeria. They owe this to the motherland and to the future generation.

Iyawa is Nigeria’s former Ambassador to Mexico.

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