Buharian Realism -By Rees Chikwendu

Filed under: Life And People,National Issues |

Rees Chikwendu


Realism is a central theory in political analyses, and it can be applied to self-interests and how power is balanced in a structural system. The use of realism to explain the interactions of power is called political realism, which often emphasizes on rule-of-law and morality. In today’s Nigeria, balance-of-power among its various ethnic nationalities is, incontrovertibly, the most realist situation of its structural system, and it is being shaped by the policies of President Muhammadu Buhari.

In multiethnic societies the balance-of-power can be the most prominent realism based on the premises that such societies are often anarchic therefore ethnic groups are likely to act in units – that is, realigning themselves – behaviors that recur to balance power. The behavior of ethnic nationalities in a structural system can be multipolar, bipolar, which are to assure their survival or protect their interests. Sometimes an ethnic group can behave in a unipolar manner as a way to seek preponderance power over the other ethnic groups. This behavior stimulates the rise of other great powers through realignment to balance power. The policies of a state can be indicators to the type of interactions and power it seeks. At the moment, it is not clear whether northern Nigeria under President Buhari acts in unipolar or bipolar fashion, although there seems to be something that looks like an alliance with southwestern Nigeria.

Nigeria’s policy today under Buhari illuminates the realist basic components of a unipolar preponderance power. This pertains to his security and economic strategies, which is consistent with the northern oligarchs interest of domination of the south (particularly against the Igbo nation), through its marginalization policies. So, balance-of-power among ethnic groups is ultimately the reality of Nigeria’s politics. The Buharian realism remains the same with the ideology of Uthman dan Fodio, whose interest was not just to Islamize the north but also the Christian south. So far, Buhari’s policies indicate the preserving of northern Nigeria’s primacy.

The avalanche of Buhari’s hate speeches in the past and as a president has so far given definition to the reality of his northern interests. His hate speeches and the actions that support them demonstrate that there has not been any shift in the northern Nigeria preponderance stance against the south. Despite the south being the rich wife sustaining the north – the wretched husband, the latter has continued to dominate and abuse it like a hapless woman of rape. Besides his hate speeches, Buhari reality can also be seen in his appointments since he became the president of Nigeria. All his appointments into key positions in the country indicate balance-of-power behaviors. At the moment, the north occupies all key political, economic and security positions. Just last week, all the appointments made by the president into key positions in NNPC, which is Nigeria’s cash cow, were dominated by persons from his northern Nigeria. Only about three persons were appointed from southern Nigeria, while the Igbo ethnic group was excluded from the appointments. Nigeria’s president has consistently shown his flagrant violation of the constitutional federal character principle. Therefore, the situation on ground today in Nigeria is Buhari’s hegemonic interests. It represents a significant reality. But it has not deterred southern Nigeria from producing behaviors of balance-of-power, too.

Right now the behaviors of southern Nigeria in its balance-of-power strategy is either the agitations for fiscal federalism or cessation from the north. The priority at the moment seems to be the self-determination of the people of the south through a plebiscite. Based on the several agitations on ground and social media movements, the quest for self-determination is another reality to balance power. Southern ethnic groups are starting to act in units and realigning themselves for self-determination. This is a behavior of balance-of-power. Today, it would not be wrong to assume that Nigeria is at the brink of collapse. So, the Buharian realism has given impetus to the rise of the movement for self-determination. These show that the politics of power and interests is the reality of the structural system of Nigeria. However, we are yet to see the outcome of this push between Nigeria’s south and its north. How this would lead to the emergence of new great powers from the push is yet to be seen. Would the Buharian realism lead to the collapse of Nigeria? Only time will tell.