Since Nigeria’s independence in 1960 from the British, it was clear that there is a bias in terms of the sharing formula as regards leadership of the great African nation.
Many scholars believe that the leadership equation which clearly favors the northern part of the country is a result of the region’s population. The north accounts for over 30 percent of the country’s total population and occupies about 70 percent of its land mass. This has also been another reason for debate in recent times, questioning the regional grouping.
Another set of scholars who tend to vehemently disagree with the first group believe that this formula favors the colonial masters and gives them the leverage to continue their hold on the country. Thus, they claim that there was a clear mastermind by the British before handover on October 1, 1960.
It is not news that the country was set to fail from the start and that the British orchestrated its division from the onset. How it manages to still stay together - albeit on a time bomb, remains a surprise.
The north, which is largely populated by Hausa and Fulani speaking population has become the deciding factor in the country for many years. Their population gives them a great advantage in deciding leaders, receiving allocations and government appointments.
This has been made worse by the mass exodus of people from neighboring Islamic countries like Chad and Niger Republic who share close boundaries with the northern part of Nigeria.
The land boundary in the north is very loose. This enables the immigration of millions of people from neighboring countries into Nigeria who easily mix up with the northerners due to the fact that they speak the same language(s) and practice the same religion – Islam. It has made the population of the perceived north increase by a geometric progression, and unduly so.
What this means is that any candidate whom the north decides to choose wins the presidential election. This has been made worse by the law in the country that mandates every presidential ticket to have a northerner in it, either as president or vice-president. There is a deep divide between the majority north and other parts of regions in the country.
Another problem that has risen as a result of the mass immigration and integration from neighboring countries around the north into Nigeria is the fact that it is easier for someone with roots from those countries to hold a political office in Nigeria than for a citizen from the South, North and/or East.
One region that has suffered most as regards leadership (especially the presidency or vice presidency) is the Eastern region, made up of Ibo speaking people. Since the early colonial years, the highest position Igbos (as they are also referred to) have occupied is the office of Senate president.
This has continued to create increased tension as the want-away region which continues to fight for autonomy to start a country by the name of Biafra intensifies. It is not known whether the country which is often described as a stool balancing on unequal legs, can survive the next decade as a single unit.
On their part, the West has enjoyed a certain parley with the north and this has enabled them to have a fair share of the national cake. It has become the norm for presidential tickets in the country to be made up of a northerner and a westerner.
Behind the north, the west enjoys the most reverence in the country and they have been wise to maintain ties with the north to preserve this relevance for many years.
This continues to pay off as the west has produced a president and currently a vice-president in two of the last four administrations in the country.
As expected, the north has been present in all administrations. While the south got a rare opportunity to produce a president after a sad turn of events that led to the death of the president while in office; the east is yet to produce either a president or a vice.
Another theory that should be taken seriously to explain this obvious political irrelevance of the eastern people is their age-long standoff with the north and their inherent desire for an independent state.
Whether these are enough reasons to deprive a people of leadership opportunity remains a debate for another day.
Yet, one thing is clear; and that is the fact that the colonial masters have a hand in the empowerment of the north over every other region in Nigeria, and sadly so.
Header Image Credit: The Guardian Nigeria