Sometimes I deliberately take the pessimistic approach to public issues not because I want them to fail rather my pessimism arises from some real historical events that are in the open domain but people shy away from furthering the narrative even when they are so obvious and important for our survival as a people.
When the governors of the North East muted the idea to come together to tackle issues of common interest affecting the region, even the one as weighty as the Boko Haram insurgency. I always take the skeptical approach and give such efforts half chance the process will succeed in light of the past attempts to achieve this. All the same I condescended at least to this because of the nature of the problems. Cautiously, I became an avid follower of the unfolding events.
Last week the 4th meeting of the forum took place in Bauchi it gave me hope my pessimism turned into optimism the current generation of the governors in the sub region may get it right this time around.
To those who knew the bitterness that kept the constituent states of the North East apart for so long would ask, is this new marriage of convenience real? is it a situation forced by the realities of the Boko Haram insurgency? is the rebirth of brotherhood which ought to have been there in light of our common historical destinies? will it like other attempts in the past dissipate as soon as the insurgency is over?
This assumption is informed by the historical fact since the demise of the North Eastern state as an entity the six states that emerged have been at each others neck outwitting one another to grab whatever comes for the zone. The level of distrust amongst the states is phenomenal one would begin to wonder if these people have once lived together.
The antagonism arose as a result of the disagreements in the asset sharing formula created by military to distribute the common assets inherited from the nuclear state. A situation that was terribly mishandled by the military during the process of state creations.
This acrimonious relationship widened the gap between the old and new states. It kept them apart for too long as if they never lived together as one people in spite their ancestral, cultural linages, inter marriages.
When the Boko Haram insurgencies started the states within sub region felt it was a particular problem of a particular group people and paid little attention to the plight of their brothers in the epicenter of the insurgency. They never imagined the contagion could spread. The failure to share information on the movement of insurgents, arrogance, tribalism, religion and lack of empathy by other communities gave the insurgency a fertile ground develop and mature and is now consuming the region.
If one of the basic reason for the creation of states was to assuage the fears of the minority tribes against domination by majority tribes, then the idea of state creation has woefully failed. Time, again and again it has shown whenever new states were created, new minorities emerge. The whole process became a solution looking for problem.
The notion that by creating more states development will spread and come to the doorsteps of the communities, translating into better living condition and greater participation of the people seems to be obliterated by the massive failure of the local government administrations across the country and to some extent even the ability of most of the states standing on their own without funding support from the central government exposes the fragile nature of the state system as they are constituted today.
The fact that the governors of the North East, have now agreed to work together is a welcome development in the light of the fictionalization of the Nigerian society.
We have for long squandered the socio political advantage we held when this nation was growing. We have lost the legacies and leadership that produced the likes of Balewas, Kashim Ibrahims, Inuwa Bakaris, Deribes, Tugas, Dipcharimas, that was the when the North East was calling the shots in the economic and political leadership of this country.
For the region to remain relevant this change of attitude is a welcome development even though it being is propelled by a distressing historical event such the Boko Haram insurgency.
We must learn from our past mistakes build on it and develop lasting legacies that would outlive the current demands of the insurgency forcing us to rethink and come together once more. We must look back remember the times when the region was strategically, economically, politically, and socio-culturally in the fore front of affairs of this country.
We must also realize the political terrain of this country has changed, to remain game players, we must use these renewed opportunities to relaunch the region in the political space and claim our rightful position.
The idea of monolithic North is no longer tenable. It is nothing but a self-serving concept, we must discard the old thinking to become a force in Nigerian equation in order to deal with the havoc created by the insurgency.
No one will do it for us. We must remain and work as a blog to be heard. The experiences gained from the 2019 general elections where the region backed away from supporting one of it’s own was instructive and lamentable. We have heard the positions of the governors of the North West. Politics is all about alignments, give and take and consensus building. We must use our blog advantage for the good our people and this can only be achieve when we redefine our participation in the Northern politics first.
The idea that some part of the country have arrogated to them self the right to rule is an empty threat in light of the political structure of the country more especially when it comes to who becomes the number citizen. We must refuse to be bullied to accept the second citizen position with our comparative advantage.
The lessons learnt from the Boko Haram insurgency will no matter how one feels about it have a far reaching implications in our future relationships with other parts of the union.
Finally I commend the maturity and the diligence of the governors of the forum in articulating the regions positions in the several communiques they have released so far which many found germane.
The most rewarding of all is the courage and sacrifice demonstrated by governors to concede the location of the forums headquarters to Maiduguri, the nuclear headquarters of the region. It was bold and worthy of praise. No one could have contemplated this would happen some twenty years ago. Time heals, I hope this would be the beginning of region waxing together as a people and entity.
That being said, I still reminisce the good times we had when we were together, life was sweeter, more communal and progressive. The diversity in culture, tribes and religion bonded us more as a community than what divides us today.
We look forward to more fruitful engagements of the Forum in the future by developing our human capital and abundant common natural resources endowed to region by God.
Long live the North East Governors Forum.