In all ideal societies world over, political leaders function as servant-leaders so that they can effectively serve the sacred interests of the electorates. Genuine servant-leaders in the corridors of power are easily identified through the quality of their thoughts and actions. A true servant-leader is one that would always put common interest above personal and sectional concerns. Studies have shown that in most multi-tribal societies like Nigeria, only God-fearing leaders have been able to summon the rare courage of placing the common interests of society ahead of sectional inclinations. As governor of Niger State, Mua’zu Babangida Aliyu is a national leader and therefore has an irrevocable obligation to champion only causes that would help heal the nation’s many democratic sores. One of these sores is tribalism. Without downplaying tribal sentiments, democracy would be unable to grow beyond its infancy in Nigeria.
Immediately after his assumption of office in May 2007, Governor Babangida Aliyu won the hearts of many when he chose to be addressed as “Chief-Servant” in the place of “His Excellency”, which has become fashionable among state governors in Nigeria. Recent happenings have however shown that the decision of the number one citizen of Niger State to be addressed as the “Chief Servant” does not go beyond merely emphasizing the fact that political leaders are messengers of the electorates.
On several occasions, Babangida Aliyu has acknowledged God as the custodian of power. He believes in the teaching that it is God that chooses leaders. This belief validates the popular opinion that left with men, it would have been impossible for a minority to be president of Nigeria. Only recently, the Talban Minna confessed that going by human arrangements, the northern ethnic bloc was expected to occupy the Nigerian presidency from 2007 to 2015, but a superior divine interjection changed the whole plan following the unexpected death of Alhaji Musa Yar’Adua. Though, Yar’Adua, the Mutawallen Katsina did not die because nature wanted to use it to end tribal-based politics in Nigeria, it nevertheless provided an important opportunity for the political class to do away with ethnic sentiments in choosing leaders in Africa’s largest democracy. Sadly, Babangida Aliyu has rather chosen to use this rare occasion to pursue sectional agendas that may plunge Nigeria deeper inside the slurs of hate and disunity.
Babangida Aliyu’s recent outburst, which seeks to stop President Jonathan from going for a second term, has once more brought to the fore questions about the essence of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF). Personally, I feel the NGF has lost its salt. It has sadly turned out to be a platform to disparage the presidency. Even if President Jonathan had signed an agreement with PDP governors to do just one term, he should not have attempted to use petrol to douse the “tribal” fire ravaging the nation.
For now, two pregnant questions are begging for urgent answers. One, is the purported agreement between President Jonathan and PDP governors consistent with the laws of Nigeria? Secondly, between legislators and the governors, who are the genuine representatives of the people? The second question seeks to establish who between the two parties has constitutional recognition as representatives of the people in a presidential democracy. Only the true representatives of the people can negotiate on behalf of the people. More than that, Babangida Aliyu is a member of a political party. He should therefore know when, where, and how to ventilate his anger. This is one core character of a genuine servant-leader.
Furthermore, it has been accepted worldwide that wisdom and loyalty are the signatures of true patriots. I do not see any atom of wisdom or trace of party loyalty in Babangida Aliyu climbing up the rooftop to shout concerning an internal issue that was consummated behind the curtains. He has not told Nigerians what the governors benefited from the terms of the agreement with the president. All he is concerned about is for the presidency to return to the north. It speaks volumes of how dangerous it is to place the burden of national leadership on the heads of sectional apologists. One can imagine what would have become of Nigeria if the Senate President, David Mark were not a true patriot. The invocation of the “Doctrine of Necessity” following the protracted absence of the ailing President Yar’Adua was clearly a product of wisdom. Above all, Mark demonstrated that he was a loyal party man.
In multi-tribal societies like Nigeria, everything possible is done to promote unity, peace, security, and development. This was why many countries, including Nigeria have had to fight civil wars. For people with diverse orientations to live peacefully, sacrifices are inevitable. In the light of this, can Babangida Aliyu and his co-travelers come out boldly to say that of Nigeria’s fifty-three years as an independent nation, the north has sacrificed too much for the unity of Nigeria? The time has come for Nigerians to start separating between true patriots and mere pretenders. Nigeria cannot afford another civil war rooted in narrow tribal sentiments. By all standards, the attempt by some political actors under the platform of All Progressive Congress (APC) to wrest power from the ruling PDP is very much safer than blowing tribal trumpets.
Let me also remind Babangida Aliyu that Nigerians of northern extraction are now wiser and would definitely resist the old order where a few privileged individuals from the region promote parochial sentiments in order to win the sympathy of the unsuspecting masses only to abandon them afterwards to pursue their personal interests. This, best explains why despite the fact that Nigeria has had more northern heads of government than the south, the north has experienced very little infrastructural development. Babangida Aliyu and his like-minds should humble themselves and drink from the cup of patriotism. Nigeria needs builders- not bulldozers.