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Election year 2015 is around the corner. But the year may herald the coming of an undertaker if one of dewy-eyed and colourless governors of the north captures the presidency to further run the region aground as many governors have so far done their fiefdoms

Threat of two death sentences is ominously hanging over Nigeria ahead of the country’s centennial celebration. The first will be effected, according to its bearer, Mujahid Dokubo Asari, in the unlikely event that security agents swoop on him. Hopefully, this will not happen because the former terrorist and saboteur, now on a self-imposed sabbatical, will not be quizzed for being a jolly good fellow. Of course, the brief respite will provide ample space for nimble-fingered people to exhaust the princely budget of the elaborate, twelve-month-long money-spinner of a centennial celebration which Nigerians, if they believe the tale, have been told will not cost the government a dime! The second and more ominous death sentence will be launched if Nigerians refuse to be cowed into returning President Goodluck Jonathan to power in 2015. The latter is more ominous because, in a free and fair election, especially in an atmosphere already fouled and polarized by Asari Dokubo and his ilk, no one can be sure of the outcome of the next election until the last ballot is counted. This raises a big question as to the designs of Dokubo Asari, who recently transformed from being a Jonathan-basher into a man who, on account of President Jonathan’s presidential ambition, has threatened to rewrite the history of Nigeria, redraw its map and repatriate some of its citizens to Futa Djalon!

Amazingly, having realized last December that he was going out of circulation, Dokubo Asari, a Nigerian-born Beninoise citizen, ingeniously took on the president at a well-publicized briefing. He accused the president of being clueless and grossly incompetent in managing the country’s affairs. Dokubo Asari echoed the feeling of some people from the Niger Delta, who point to the rot in the country to say the president’s mistakes did not belong to the Niger Delta. Indeed, Dokubo Asari barely restrained himself from calling for an abrupt end to a democratically-elected government. He was promptly dismissed as a cheap blackmailer even by opposition politicians but third rate presidential publicists and starry-eyed Ijaw leaders back home saw the matter differently; to them, what Dokubo Asari did was like disrobing a fellow Ijaw in the marketplace! Of course, there is no resisting the pull of lucre and with millions in circulation courtesy of a dubious amnesty programme in the Niger Delta, there would always be enough to silence those who elect to blackmail a system famous for approaching every crisis with bottomless pockets.

If truth be told, the north will continue to be at the receiving end of the philippic tendencies of blackmailers in the mould of Dokubo Asari each time they glibly allude to reinventing Nigeria. This is for the untenable reason that the north is an albatross and peopled by leechlike destitutes. The impression is firmed by ever-complaining governors and other political leaders of the north who spuriously finger unfair oil-driven federal allocations as the cause of the backwardness of the region. This is a classic case of deficit of transformational leadership, a problem not peculiar to the north but where it is most pronounced. Deficit of transformational leadership has created a situation whereby so-called leaders devise divisive and dangerous means of founding and funding militia groups of red-eyed, adhesive-sniffing and reefer-reeking insurgents and serial killers across the region.

At the heart of the problem is the criminal neglect of agriculture, the main forte of the north, and the dependence on oil revenues which have done little to benefit the average northern Nigerian. This neglect has firmed the negative impression, not about to end, that the north and northerners are incapable of contributing to the nation’s kitty but consume a disproportionate amount of the country’s wealth on account of their population. This is no time for lamentations but this negative impression is clearly at variance with history of modern Nigeria because up until the oil boom era, the groundnut and cotton pyramids of the north contributed handsomely to the federal purse to transform Lagos and facilitate the exploration of oil in the Niger Delta. Despite this, First Republic northern political leaders never regarded the Niger Delta region as an albatross. Neither did they turn themselves into treasury-hijackers but were God-fearing enough to use what was available to the north, after remitting fifty per cent of earnings to the federal purse, to execute enduring projects across the region.

The reverse is now the case. The trend today is to engage in the pedestrian and defeatist lamentation of unfair federal allocations as the cause of the backwardness of the region, a lamentation that is as insulting as it is embarrassing to the legacy and memory of the late premier of the defunct northern regional government led by Sir Ahmadu Bello. If truth be told, the defunct northern region was not transformed by parasitic leaders, as their successors have turned themselves into, to depend on the wealth of the rubber and palm oil plantations of the south. Nor did the leader of that government turn the blind eye to the values of good governance with the aim of passing the buck; Sir Ahmadu Bello never consigned the people to a life of destitution and poverty in the hope that other people would come to salvage the situation. Present-day political leaders in the north fail to realize the damage they do to the people of the north by shamelessly crying over lopsided and unfavourable federal allocations in the name of defending some spurious interests.

2015 is around the corner. Chillingly for the north, the year may herald the coming of an undertaker if one of its dewy-eyed and colourless governors captures the presidency to further run the region aground as many governors have so far done their fiefdoms. As part of the grand design, many overwhelmed governors have abandoned governance, not always on their radar anyway, for politics, and some of them have floated and are funding mushroom organizations with public funds, ostensibly to promote and defend putative interests of the north and northerners. Expectedly, this will not improve the security situation considering the huge amount of state resources being stashed away to prosecute their campaigns.

Bad news first, and this is where governors of the northern states hold the ace: in the vast plain of illiteracy and poverty that northern Nigeria has been turned into, there will be no shortage of voters who will be induced by pitiable hand-outs and large doses of indoctrination to send their conscience on compulsory holiday. The good news is that, with the right leadership, northern Nigeria has the capacity to avert the fall of a perilously-swinging hammer...and stymie the tantrums of Dokubo Asari and his ilk.