When will Southern Nigerian politicians learn political lessons? It is gradually dawning on all that Northerners in the two major political parties in Nigeria may hold on to power due to a lack of cooperation among the aspirants from the three zones in the Southern parts of the country.
A quick survey of the aspirants of the All Progressives Party shows that about 70% are from the South – self-inflicting political suffocation that carved a better chance for few Northern aspirants. If the position of the 11 Northern governors to shift power to the South is not adhered to, it may extremely difficult for a Southern aspirant to emerge as APC presidential candidate.
If none is bothered by the evident decapitation of the Southern politicians on the power-sharing formula of the presidency between North and South, Alhaji Ahmed Bola Tinubu, the leader of Southwest politics is, and he has cried for fair play. His cry was loud that even the deaf could hear him. Will the northern political oligarchs listen to him?
During his tour of Abeokuta to lure the support of Ogun APC delegates, he lay bare his mind on the urgent need to shift power to the south: “If not for me that led the war front, Buhari won’t have emerged. He contested first, second and third times, but lost. He even said on television that he won’t contest again.
“But I went to his home in Katsina, I told him you would contest and win, but you won’t joke with the matters of the Yoruba.
“Since he has emerged I have not been appointed minister. I didn’t get nor request a contract. This time, it’s Yoruba turn and in Yorubaland, it’s my turn.”
It would be not correct to agree with Tinubu that it is the turn of Yoruba Southwest to occupy the presidency in 2023 since Chief Olusegun Obasanjo from Ogun State had ruled Nigeria from 1999 to 2007. While it is the turn of Southern Nigeria to take over presidential power in 2023, the true picture is that it’s the turn of the Igbo Southeast to produce the next president of Nigeria.
The fact is that some Southern politicians, due to their quest for political relevance are selfish, greedy, and inordinately ambitious. Thus, they become vulnerable to the Northern political manipulation, manoeuvres, and selflessness.
The distasteful manner with which Governor Ezenwo Nyesom Wike of Rivers State taunted Mr. Peter Obi, during a meeting with the Anambra stakeholders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in April 2022, is unworthy of note. According to Wike: “We should tell ourselves the simple truth. I know where he [Peter Obi] would win, but this [PDP Presidential primary] one, Mba! Mba! It’s not available at all.” If that should be taken as an unwarranted joke, his continued attack on Obi after he had left PDP for Labour Party due to the alleged “dollarization” of the primary, left many questions about some politicians.
During the Politics Today programme on Channels Television on 26th May 2022, Wike said that “Peter Obi leaving the party is not surprising to me. I know and he knows that there was no way he would have won the presidential primary. Forget about what his DG, Doyin Okupe, said. How would he have won? I went to Anambra and told them that, ‘don’t waste your vote.’ Since Peter Obi left APGA then as a governor, he has never won election. That is not even the issue.
“The issue is that there must be integrity, there must be character. How can a man who had gone to all the states to tell them how he had been a trader, how his family has been trading, how everybody should support him, how he wore one shoe, how he did not allow anybody to carry his bag, and all those things. Three days to the primary, he said he had left the party.”
Obi’s reaction is worth noting: “I don’t know how that one came in but I think when we talk about integrity, we are talking about integrity in the management of public resources. That is what we should be talking about in this country. And when such things are mentioned about me, I feel maybe there is something missing somehow. Go and check my records as a governor.”
The big question is, why should Wike, an Igbo man from Ikwerre, who knew it was the turn of Southeasterner to take the 2023 presidency, burn his energy on criticizing Obi while he was silent on the Northern aspirants. It shows a lack of synergy among the Southern political aspirants.
It could be due to the lack of cohesion among Southern PDP aspirants that Governor
Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State plowed the ground for the eventual grabbing of the PDP Presidential ticket by Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. In his word, “for PDP, I have a question. Are we looking for zoning or winning?… We had an election in Anambra State. The governor of Anambra State won the election with 112,000 votes. The person next to him, the PDP candidate, secured about 53,000 votes. The third the APC candidate, had 24,000 votes. The fourth YYP candidate had about 20,000 votes. Put together in that state election, governorship, we had about 220,000 votes in between four political parties.
“Jos federal constituency in Plateau State where PDP won, the PDP candidate had about 40,000, PRP had 37,000 then APC 26,000. If you add this, it is close to a 100,000. Federal constituency elections. So democracy is an issue. That is why after the election, I appeal to PDP to look at these elections, and study elections, and by-elections, as we progress towards 2023…
“Yes. Atiku contested, Rabiu Musa contested. And Sam Nda Isaiah and Rochas Okorocha contested. But we knew where we’re going because we were determined to win. Let me tell you had, if APC had given that ticket to someone from the south, in particular South South, we couldn’t have won. Go and check the election results of 2007, Buhari had 11 million votes before in 2003. But in 2007, he got 7 million votes against Yar’Adua because they are from the same Katsina. Now, this is for PDP. In the south, as of today, PDP is in eight government houses. APC is also in eight government houses, leaving one; Anambra. In the north, APC is in 14 government houses, PDP is in five government houses. And they have the president. So, I am giving you this analysis so that together, as leaders of our party, who are working towards winning election, not zoning, not winning tickets. Yes we can share ticket and everybody can take his piece and go to his zone. But you must plan to win election.”
Thus, on 28th May 2022, during the PDP Presidential primary, Governor Tambuwal, in a display of Northern political brotherhood and maturity stepped down for Atiku, thereby increasing his chances to win. Shortly before then, Mohammed Hayatu-Deen, a seasoned financial manager from Borno State, North-East had withdrawn from the PDP presidential race – leaving the northern political terrain for easy capture by Atiku. No wonder after the election, the National Chairman of the PDP, Iyorchia Ayu, during a visit to the Sokoto State government openly commended Tambuwal for stepping down for Atiku, stating he was “the hero of the convention.” Whatever description one could use to paint the northern political arrangement, the reality is that their political strategy and tactics yielded results.
The development evidently shocked the leader of the Niger Delta and elder statesman, Chief Edwin Clark. In his press release titled “Resign Now: You’re No Longer Fit To Remain PDP National Chairman,” dated 31st May 2022, Chief Clark said: “I was alarmed by the outrageous and Machiavellean manner in which Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal, Governor of Sokoto State, was so apparently “arranged” to announce his withdrawal from the contest, at the last minute; his speech changed the mood of the event. That was done in order to foist another Northerner as the Party’s flag bearer; having regard to the fact that Governor Aminu Tambuwal was the only aspirant from the whole of the North West, which had about 192 delegates at the convention.
“What Tambuwal did was not only dishonourable but also a serious electoral abnormality and a tragic betrayal of national patriotism for hidebound interests.
“Another Northern aspirant, Mr Mohammed Hayatu-Deen, a businessman from Borno State, had, earlier, also suddenly, withdrawn from the contest, citing its obscene monetisation as his reason; but we now know better. It is now widespread understanding that there were pressures mounted on Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State, and former Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki, to also withdraw, while Tambuwal deliberately delayed his action till the last minute. By so doing, unduly swept his North-West votes to Atiku Abubakar.”
Sequel to that, the lamentation of Wike on the 30th of May 2022 after his failure in the PDP presidential primary election, showed how disappointed he was over some Southern delegates that did not vote for him. He said: “I contested election based on principle and agreement with all the southern governors and the leaders of the south that the presidency should go to the south this period.” He failed to observe that since 1998 when PDP was formed that issues of power-sharing and rotation of presidency were agreed upon and sacrosanct. Rather than supporting Peter Obi who was the brightest aspirant from Igbo South-East, he used unprovoked words against him in order to score cheap political points. South-East was relegated to the background which eventually led to Wike’s Waterloo. Brooding in pains over his failure, Wike noted: “Shame to those who will sell out their own thing. I’ve never seen a thing like this in my life. A governor? And tomorrow, you’ll say ‘oh, the south is a minority.’ You are the one making yourself to be the minority. Shame! You’re holding something in trust for your people, and you claim that this is what your people want. Then, you sell out.” He further said: “No wonder we cannot move on development. Look at a region — they ganged up, then your own region cannot gang up? You became tools to be used against the interest of your people. And you think you have won? You have lost. You will continue to be perpetual slaves.”
According to Premium Times dated 1st June 2022, in the zones of Southern Nigeria, Wike won 2 States (Oyo and Ekiti) of 6 States in the South-West; 2 States (Abia and Enugu) of 5 States in the South-East; and 3 States (Rivers, Cross River and Edo) of 6 States in South-South. In nutshell, out of the 17 States in Southern Nigeria Wike only won 7 States. Wike eventually “came second with 237 votes against former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar’s 371 votes.”
In a few hours’ time, the ruling party, the All Progressives Party will be holding its presidential primary to select the APC flagbearer for the 2023 presidential election. For a week, all aspirants are jostling to outwit each other. Meanwhile, as of 4th June 2022, 11 governors from Northern Nigeria had agreed to allow presidential power shift to the South, which they believed would be in the interest of Nigeria. It was a show of political maturity.
Just yesterday, it was alleged that the National Chairman of APC, Alhaji Abdullahi Adamu has announced the current Senate President, Senator Ahmad Lawan as the consensus APC presidential candidate for the APC national convention. However, some members of the National Working Committee led by APC National Organising Secretary Alhaji Sulaiman Arugugun, kicked against it and told the newsmen that Adamu’s position “was just an information he gave us and all of us are entitled to our opinions as democrats.” He noted that they are supporting the position of the 11 Northern governors. In line with this, President Buhari, through his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu maintained yesterday that he had no “preferred” or “anointed” candidate, and vowed not to impose any candidate.
As the APC political pendulum dangles, observers are hopeful that the outcome will be fruitful. It has been predicted that a possible winner will come from the following aspirants – Hon. Rotimi Amaechi, Senator Ahmad Lawan, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and Senator Bola Tinubu. Any miscalculation may mar or make APC hold on to power.
The Southern politicians should wake up from slumber to avoid the 2023 Presidential Election eluding them.
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