Bolaji Akinyemi, former minister of external affairs, has suggested elites and leaders from northern region believe more in President Muhammadu Buhari than they do of Atiku Abubakar and ex-military President Ibrahim Babangida.
Akinyemi said this in an interview he granted the Vanguard.
He explained Buhari was the only one that could influence the north to shift grounds on critical national questions confronting the country.
“The person, right now, who the north believes in, is Buhari. If Buhari were to tell them that, ‘for the stability of Nigeria, in order for things not to fall apart, in order for us to even protect our gains in the north, the north has to give up certain issues; we must devolve issues, certain subjects, from the exclusive list, concurrent list and, also now, at least reserve some issues for the local governments’, and they would trust him; that he’s not selling them out for political reasons. The fact that Atiku Abubakar said it, that Ibrahim Babangida said it, they don’t have the same kind of gravitas in the north as Buhari today. That is why I said it’s only Buhari” Akinyemi said.
He further spoke on the issue of ethnicity in the country.
He said: “People cannot understand or reason properly. You’ve got to accept that in politics, rationality takes a back seat; people refuse to reason rationally when it comes to politics,” he said.
“Ethnicity is a negation of rational thinking. I remember once reading something that was meant to be a joke but it wasn’t. It said if you enter a Nigerian plane and you look at the newspapers people are reading, you can tell which part of the country they are from.
“It’s like my mind is made up, so don’t confuse me with facts. So, when a northerner then picks up a newspaper from another part of the country, his first impression is, ‘what do you expect?’ But if he reads the same thing in a newspaper aligned to his region, then he believes it.
“Same goes for a westerner or an easterner and that is why I have come to the conclusion that, right now, the only person who could solve Nigeria’s problem is Buhari.”
When told to repeat what he said, the professor replied: “Yes, Buhari!”
He said the region has fears that it could be marginalised and northerners believe that the only politician who can negotiate a fair deal for them is Buhari.
“The north doesn’t say it is marginalised but the north has fears that it can be marginalised and that the only way to protect itself, because of the state of economic development, educational development and others, is to control the process and to control the system,” he said.
“Look, we must tell each other the truth if, indeed, we want a solution to the Nigerian problem. Since 1966, the constitutions we’ve had in this country have been the constitutions produced under military regimes and the military regimes we’ve had have been dominated by the north; given what happened in the counter-coup of July 1966, they’ve never let go.
“And that is why you’ve had that overweighting of issues into the side of the exclusive list. Because if they control the federal government and they have a constitution that has transferred most of the powers to the federal government, then their fears are being addressed. They are protecting themselves. It’s a rational thing.”