For the very first time in the history of independent Nigeria, governors of the Southern Region of the country met in Asaba, Delta State ,last week.
Before the governors came together, it had appeared that such gathering was unthinkable because of much touted age long mistrust and unhealthy rivalry between South West and South East flanks of the region.
But, seemingly acting out the wise counsel of the third President of the United States of America, Thomas Jefferson who said :” I admire the dreams of the future more than the history of the past”, the governors put aside the past and came together to chart a way forward for their region, and Nigeria as a whole.
The Asaba parley provided a platform for fruitful deliberation on critical issues currently buffeting the country. But, most significantly, it completely shattered the lingering myth that Southern Nigeria can never speak with one voice.
And as one should expect the reality that Southern Nigeria could after all speak with one voice has elicited mixed reactions from the peoples of the region, and those of the Northern region.
Down here in the South it has been praises and more praises galore. Members of the National Assembly from the region wasted no time soon after the parley to jump behind the governors in support of their action.
Socio-cultural groups like Afenifere, Oha na Eze and PANDEF were not left out in the backslapping and salutation of the courage of the governors in taking the lead in opening a new chapter of Southern Nigeria romance.
Conversely, and revealing as well, some Northern leaders egged on by some elected leaders have been at odds with Asaba parley. Senate President Ahmed Lawan said it was not right for elected leaders to be championing and clamouring for restructuring.
Ex-Nasarawa State Governor and incumbent Senator Abdullahi Adamu was also angry with the governors; same way Arewa Consultative Forum picked holes with some of the resolutions reached at the meeting.
In all however, one thing the largely parochial and biased utterances of the Northern leaders has laid bare is the increasing fears in the region over the prospect of a united Southern Nigeria.
The governors of Southern Nigeria should overlook the whining of the North and take further steps towards ensuring their resolutions at the meeting see the light of the day. To this end, we are urging them to move from the realm of words to that of action as is being demanded by their peoples.
They should effectively and comprehensively address the menace of open grazing which as they rightly observed, is largely instrumental to fledgling insecurity in this part of the country.
As a necessity they take full charge of the push for a restructured country. It is an open secret that as presently heavily skewed in a favour of the North, progress and development would remain a pipe dream unless the prevailing imbalance in the country is addressed.
Most importantly, coming less than two years to the 2023 presidential polls, this new found energy should be fully deployed into bringing the presidential seat back to the south.
In fact, in our considered opinion that should take precedence over every other issue. Getting the presidency which, by gentleman agreement is, supposed to return to south after North’s eight years, is never going to be a stroll in the park.
However, it will be achievable if the blossoming unity among nations in Southern Nigeria is sustained. Doing that will require that political leaders under the guidance of the governors should put party affiliations aside and come together to fight for that common objective.
Without doubt, if the seventeen Southern Nigeria States can join hands together and work to get what is rightly due them, there is hardly any man made obstacle that can stop them.
As several commentators have already pointed out there is hardly any better time than now for Southern Nigeria nations to come together and speak together.
The country is perching dangerously on the precipice occasioned by bad leadership which has devastated the economy, unchained poverty and misery as well as unleashed insecurity on the polity.
Truly, almost everything is bad with Nigeria and as true leaders of the people the governors seem to have agreed with Prof Wole Soyinka that the man will die in them if they keep silent in the face of the sorry situation in their region and nation.
Therefore, having risen to the occasion as signalled by the recent meeting the governors should make sure they sustain the tempo already released.
However, it should be emphasized that they can not fight the battle alone . They need the total and unreserved support of their peoples to succeed and that by every standard is not asking for too much.