There had been agitation across the nation during the preparation for the Nigeria presidential election slated for February 16, 2019, which got postponed to February 23, 2019, by the electoral commission. The incumbent President, Muhammadu Buhari got re-elected and set to be sworn in on June 12, 2019. Even though there were several propositions of rigging by members of the two major parties across several polling units, it cannot be denied that traces of hooliganism and violence were considerably seen in some states which led to the loss of lives and damage of properties.
It was a notable occurrence that the returning president could not win in any South Eastern State despite his gigantic winning in the North. Regardless, this puzzle is not out of context in any election settings as it has reflected in several election processes in the past. Meanwhile, his party remains the runner up across the Eastern region which means several thousand voted for him even in the East.
In 1914, Sir Frederick Lugard suggested that the two British protectorates: Southern and Northern will be under one single governor general. A few years later in 1939, the southern protectorate will later be divided into two provinces Western and Eastern. For the country was divided in such a way that the North had slightly more population than the other two regions combined which eventually marked the beginning of three geographical regions that formed along tribal lines, the Hausa and Fulani to the North, Yoruba in the South-West and Igbo to the South-East to create the present day Nigeria.
Should it be considered as a fallacy of hastening generalization to draw out a conclusion that, there is a rigid marginalization coupled with an embittered rivalry between the Northern and Eastern people of the nation following the results of the elections? Understanding that after the colonial period, Nigeria suffered a continuous regional tension, caused by ethnic competitiveness, educational inequality, religious extremists, violent insurgencies and economic imbalance, with the South complaining of northern domination, and the North feared that the southern elite was bent on capturing power. ¹
This lead to the Nigerian Civil War, also known as the Biafra War from July 1967 to January 1970 which was caused by the attempted secession of the South Eastern province of Nigeria as the self-proclaimed Republic of Biafra. Immediate causes of the war in 1966 included a military coup which resulted in General Aguiyi-Ironsi, an Igbo, assuming power as President, followed by a northerner-led counter-coup, the control of the lucrative oil production in the Niger Delta and the killings of over 80,000 Igbo people in the North of which half of them children. Could it be said that this coupled with the violent conflicts/killings in Southern Kaduna and Benue involving Christians mostly farmers attacked by Hausa-Fulani Muslim herdsmen may have fueled bitterness towards the present government of Muhammadu Buhari?
Our aim is not to dwell on the past but to reiterate that, “No sacrifice is too much to avert chaos, prevent any further incidence of criminality, protect human lives and spare the lives of the country,” as stated during the forum of former governors in vanguard news on July 20, 2017. The sacrifices start with the use of information at our disposal. Planting and building on seeds of contempt and hatred will not in any way help the country. The president has a burden of responsibility on the nation, not on the area that voted him in or his tribe.