IT is a great irony that while the governors of the 19 states of Northern Nigeria meet regularly to address issues of common interest in the defunct Region, their counterparts in the South find it difficult to re-enact the same process.
It therefore came as a huge relief for many that on Monday October 22, 2017, all the governors of the 17 states of the South, except Imo State, either attended or sent their Deputies to represent them at the meeting in Lagos hosted by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode. It was the second meeting by Southern Governors in 12 years, the last one being hosted in 2005 by former Governor Chimaroke Nnamani in Enugu.
Perhaps the difficulty in getting the political leadership of the South to close ranks and work with one accord like their Northern counterparts owes to historical realities. Since the amalgamation of the former British territories that later became Nigeria, the North was always kept as one entity until 1967 when General Yakubu Gowon split the federation into 12 states.
On the other hand, the South was carved into the defunct Eastern and Western Regions by the British colonialists, and later in 1963, the Mid-Western Region was constitutionally created out of the old Western Region. While the North has tended to provide a virtual unified front on most national issues, the South has been fractious, with intense rivalries and infighting. This made it very easy for the North to dominate the political landscape of the country, leaving the South as a hotbed of agitations.
We encourage the Southern geopolitical zones to work together just as their Northern counterparts do in order to balance the Federation and carry the interests of all its constituent geopolitical zones along. It will reduce the incidence of perceived marginalisation of any part of the country and ensure that issues of primal interests to the two great divides are amicably resolved through dialogue and consensus, rather than impunity.
Contrary to fears some might entertain, the closing of ranks by Southern leaders will not result in the endangerment of the unity or territorial integrity of our country. Instead, it will strengthen the country’s unity when crucial national questions are brought to the table for deliberation by co-equal political blocs.
Besides, it will encourage economic, social and political integration of the three geopolitical regions and ease bottled-up tensions that often arise from normal socio-political and economic interactions.
We encourage, not just the leadership of the two great political divides to meet and work together, we also urge closer interstate and inter-zone cooperation. A good example of this manifested last year in the pact between Lagos and Kebbi States in the production and consumption of LA-KE Rice.
Let these healthy interactions continue.