Posted by From IBRAHIM BARDE, Kano on
A prominent northern politician and former presidential liaison officer in charge of Kano, during the Shagari administration.....
A prominent northern politician and former presidential liaison officer in charge of Kano, during the Shagari administration, Alhaji Tanko Yakasai, has advised the South-South to pursuit its presidential project by persuasion and not by what he called "physical or verbal violence." He said that blackmail cannot stand persuasion on its head in the art of politics.
Yakassi agreed that the South South and the South East were entitled to seek for the presidency, but said: "This time is the turn of the North. After the North has finished its tenure, it can then go back to the South. That was the agreement reached by Nigerians."
He added that the agitation for rotational presidency was started way back in 1994 during the constitutional conference of the late Gen. Sani Abacha regime and as such was not a new phenomenon. He charged President Olusegun Obasanjo to honour his commitment that after him power will return to the North.
"I am not only disappointed with the president, I am equally not happy with him, I donít see his behaviour as gentlemanly," he said.
He spoke on other issues during an interview with Daily Sun in Kano.
Are you not worried about threats to dismember Nigeria if power is denied the South South in 2007?
I am not worried. The only thing that is worrying me is that behaviour pattern of some politicians run counter to democratic culture. In a democracy, you win by persuasion, not by intimidation or blackmail. A blackmailer has never achieved his objective throughout the world. Blackmail is a sign of bankruptcy of ideas. You have no idea to win over your opponent, then, you resort to violence, either physically or verbally. Blackmail is part of verbal violence I am not worried.
But this is not the first time that an attempt is being made to dismember Nigeria. Once, an attempt was made to dismember the country, but it failed. Therefore, if another person wants to attempt it again, in the end, Nigeria will remain united. He will lose. Nigeria will lose. We will lose lives and properties, but like it happened during the previous attempt, the area that declares secession will be the area that will suffer most, because it will be the theatre of war. Anybody who is trying to test Nigeria, to test the political will of Nigerians is free.
This is democracy. He is free to do that, whether he will succeed or not, time will tell.
Wasnít it the same method that was adopted before power eventually shifted to the South in 1999?
Well, as far as I know, in the last dispensation, power was never shifted to the South through blackmail. It was through agitation and persuasion and we in the North were convinced because we are men of honour with a sense of justice and fair play; we were convinced with the argument that, because, for a reason or the other, power was in the hands of northerners for a very long time any person with a sense of justice and fairness, would sympathize with our southern compatriots and therefore, we consciously, out of conviction, decided, voluntarily, to concede the power to the South.
Not only did we, as northerners who belonged to the PDP, voted for a southern candidate, also northerners who were in the opposition party, made, through an alliance, an arrangement whereby a northerner was denied his constitutional right to vie for the Presidency and, therefore, adopted a southerner as a presidential candidate which made it possible for Chief Olu Falae and Obasanjo from the South West, to contest the 1999 elections. So it is not correct to say that power shifted to the South in 1999 through blackmail and threats, no, nobody threatened anybody, there was agitation and this agitation started way back in 1994, during the constitutional conference under the late General Sani Abacha transition programme and we, all of us, who attended that conference agreed that in order to give every side of the country a chance to taste power, there should be rotation between the North and South and even making it possible for the rotation to take place between zones in the regions, three zones in the South and three zones in the North.
South-South is saying for 40 years, it has not come near power.
No, South-South can only come near power through persuasion. It is not the fault of any body. They themselves are a minority. In a democracy if you are minority, the only way you can succeed is to try to persuade the majority. There is no way the minority will lord it over the majority. That is alien to democratic tradition and culture. It will never happen, it has never happened anywhere and it will never happen in Nigeria.
The minority can win the hearts of the majority and thereby get their support for either power or anything, but it cannot be done through blackmail. The South-East, for instance, is doing what it is supposed to do by going about the presidential project by persuasion and not by any crude method, that is how politics is supposed to be played, not by intimidation.
They say that since they produce about 90 percent of the nationís wealth they should be considered for the presidency.
They deserve to be given the presidency simply because they are Nigerians, not because they produce oil. When we were producing ground nut, cocoa, iron ore, cotton, hides and skin, solid minerals and what have you and we used our own resources to develop their area, at that time, they had nothing by way of natural resources. Maybe those who are talking are younger people who do not know the history of Nigeria. When the Federal Government, under the leadership of Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, decided to set up Niger Delta Development Authority (NDDA) Niger Delta area had no natural resources that would generate funds for their development.
The Federal Government took the shares of regional governments in the East, North and the West to develop the Niger Delta area. Most of those making noise now went through the school system that was built through our own money for their education. Our money was taken to build roads for them. It was taken to build ports there. Our money was taken to build hospitals and clinics and our money was taken to develop agriculture in their area, at that time. They had no source of revenue. It was the rest of the country that did that for them. No body complained.
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