2023 PRESIDENCY: Tribalism and Poverty

By Ikenga Chronicles January 4, 2019


–By Ken Tadaferua

This short essay puts to the lie the notion that resort to tribal sentiments by politicians during elections does help the greater majority of the peoples of that tribe. It is absolutely false and especially so for the poor citizens of the tribe. The call on tribal solidarity by the political elite is a ruthless and manipulative strategy to win elections for themselves, the elite class and their families not for the masses of the tribe.

It is a common trend among Nigerian politicians, north, east, west and south to use tribalism as a tool for votes. Power minister, Babatunde Fashola and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo (a pastor and perceived as urbane) raised not a few eyebrows, when they played the tribalism or ethnic card, calling on Yorubas to vote for Buhari in other to get Yoruba Presidency in 2023. Igbo politicians, Orji Kalu, Rochas Okorocha and others had earlier called on Igbos to vote for Buhari in other to get Igbo Presidency in 2023. But it is all deception that shamelessly exploits tribalism which like racism is evil, breeds hatred and destroys shared common values that ought help citizens build a united and prosperous country.

Political tribalism is particularly wicked in Nigeria. For after being elected, the politician uses his office to feather his personal and family nests. He ignores the poor masses he manipulated to get him to power. The poor is left in misery and gets poorer while the politician thrives in great wealth looted from resources meant to improve the lives of his tribe’s poor.

Our political history poignantly proves the point. We see clearly when we assess the relationship between Nigerian heads of government and the rate of poverty in the states or regions they come from. But first, we show in the list below, all our heads of government from 1960, the number of years they were in power and the states they are from:

Kastina State
* Muhammadu Buhari (6 years)
* Umaru Musa Yar’Adua (3 years)

Kano State
* Murtala Mohammed (seven months)
* Sani Abacha (5 years)

Niger State
* Ibrahim Babangida (8 years)
* Abdulsalami Abubakar (1 year)

Bauchi State
* Tafawa Balewa (6 years)

Sokoto State
* Shehu Shagari (4 years)

Plateau State
* Yakubu Gowon (9 years)

Ogun State
* Olusegun Obasanjo (11 years)
* Ernest Shonekan (four months)

Bayelsa State
* Goodluck Jonathan (5 years)

Abia State
* Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi (six months)

There are thus nine out of 36 states that produced Nigeria’s 13 heads of government from 1960 to date. Is there any evidence that the poor masses in the states or regions where the heads of government come from fare better than the poor masses in other states of the country? None. Is there evidence that being in power as President or head of government gives only a small club of political associates, elites and their families exclusive benefits from state funds to the exclusion of the poor masses. Absolutely.

Now let’s use the United Nation’s Multi-Dimensional Poverty Index (data collected between 2006 – 2014) to show poverty rates in the nine states which has produced Nigeria’s heads of government. States with less than 50% poverty rates is not consequent upon the benevolence of their kith and kin heads of government to stem poverty but is the produce of a culture of personal work environment, education and industry of the citizens.

Look at the alarmingly high poverty rates in the six northern states that produced nine heads of government with a collective number of 34 years of being in power between them. This is the same northern region where northern politicians and elite group like the Northern Elders Forum campaign viciously with regional tribalism to call for Northern Presidency at every turn and threaten fire and brimstone that “power must return to the north.” Of what use is their dominance of power been to the huge masses of the poor among them.

Imagine Kastina, Sokoto and Bauchi with over 80 percent poverty rates. Imagine Babangida and Abubakar’s Niger State with 61 percent of its citizens in poverty. Kano State where Abacha, who looted billions of dollars, comes from has 76 percent of its citizens in poverty. Yet when it is elections or struggle for power among the elites, they turn us to regional or tribal hate warriors who vote or campaign for them. Elections over and they abandon the people in worse poverty as the leaders steal their collective patrimony.

The nine states’ poverty rates
* Bauchi State (86.6%)
* Sokoto State (85.3%)
* Kastina State (82.2%)
* Kano State (76.4%)
* Niger State (61.2%)
* Plateau State (51.6%)
* Bayelsa State (29%)
* Ogun State (26.1%)
* Abia State (21%)

What this clearly indicates is that the appeal to tribalism during election campaigns is one of the most ruthless, wicked and selfish manipulation that politicians deploy to deceive the masses to vote for them. The campaign for Yoruba Presidency or Igbo Presidency or Northern Presidency in 2023 or any other time is a ruse from hell. They win elections, then they ignore you.

They encourage the violent hatred for other tribes and even organize deadly bloody clashes between tribes while their families are safely in foreign countries enjoying luxury during the elections. They ignore the poor in their abject penury while they loot the treasury and make their political colleagues and families fabulously rich.

When a politician says to you, vote for Yoruba Presidency or Hausa Presidency or Igbo Presidency, he is calling you an imbecile who he can manipulate for his personal gain. If you vote for a candidate on the basis of tribalism, instead of your welfare and prosperity, then know that you are a compound fool. The history of leadership and poverty data proves it pungently. So, please stop being an “Efulefu” or a “Dindinrin”.

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