Ahmed Tinubu

State holder says the South may lose the presidential election in 2023.

election
Ahmed Tinubu

There are fears that the South would go to the polls at the mercy of the North in the next presidential elections.

This is especially true given the possibility that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) or the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) would produce President Muhammadu Buhari’s successor. What’s more, neither party has made a definitive decision on the difficult topic of zoning.

Both PDP and APC national leaders from the North Central have said unequivocally that the parties’ presidential tickets have yet to be designated.

Remember that the Southern Governors Forum (SGF) led the push for a power transition from the North once Buhari’s term ends in 2023. Other organizations that supported this included the Southern, Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF), the Igbo apex socio-cultural group, Ohanaeze, the Yoruba socio-political organization, Afenifere, and the Yoruba Ronu Leadership Forum, among others.

Despite the requests, the leadership of both the APC and the PDP appear unfazed, insisting that the presidential ticket has yet to be allotted to any particular area.

The Southern Governors did not specify which geopolitical zone in the south should produce the next president, while some say the Southeast is more deserved because it has yet to experience power since Nigeria returned to democratic rule in 1999. They are adamant that this is the only way to achieve equity, fairness, and justice.

While the Southeast looks to have a stronger chance with the PDP, the number of contenders approved to compete in the party’s presidential primary cuts across the South and North.

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, former Senate Presidents Bukola Saraki and Pius Anyim, former Anambra State Governor Peter Obi, and Bauchi and Sokoto State Governors Bala Mohammed and Aminu Tambuwal have all been authorized to run in the PDP presidential primary.

Others include Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike, Publisher Dele Momodu, Former Banker Mohammed Hayatu-Deen, Pharmacist Sam Ohabunwa, Akwa Ibom State Governor Emmanuel Udom, and Olivia Tariela, the sole female presidential challenger.

Former Ekiti State Governor Ayo Fayose, a lawyer named Charles Okwudili, Chikwendu Kalu, and Cosmos Ndukwe are also on the list.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo (Ogun), former House of Representatives Speaker Dimeji Bankole (Ogun), Senator Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun), APC national leader Asiwaju Bola Tinubu (Lagos), and the chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, Dr. Kayode Fayemi are all members of the APC (Ekiti).

Governor David Umahi (Ebonyi), Dr Chris Ngige (Anambra), Minister of State for Education, Emeka Nwajiuba (Imo), Orji Uzo Kalu (Abia), Senator Rochas Okorocha (Imo), Ihechukwu Dallas Chima (Abia), and Usman Iwu (Imo) have all shown interest in succeeding Buhari next year.

So yet, just three people have expressed an interest in the South-South Initiative. Governor Ben Ayade (Cross River), Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers), and Mr Tein Jack-Rich are among them (Rivers).

Governor Yahaya Bello (Kogi) and Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim are both from the North Central (Kwara). Adamu Garba II is the sole person from the North East (Adamawa).

Former President Goodluck Jonathan and current Central Bank Governor Godwin Emefiele are still being mentioned as probable candidates pending their declaration.

However, experts believe that the South zone would be at the mercy of the northern political matchmakers during the main party primaries and the election since, as things are, the North has a greater grip on the political machinery of both the PDP and the APC.

President Buhari and the party’s National Chairman, Abdullahi Adamu, are both from the North. The ruling party’s structure has stayed in the North for more than two years, following the ouster of its former national head, Adams Oshiomhole.

In a similar vein, the current PDP national chairman, Senator Iyorchia Ayu, is from North-central, and while he once pledged to retire if the party chose a presidential candidate from the north, this is perceived to suggest that the north is unwilling to relinquish the ticket.

According to the rising number of presidential hopefuls from the South, particularly the Southwest, in the APC, the zone’s chances appear to be in jeopardy.

The majority of Southwest candidates have persisted with their talks and are also displaying signs of desperation, with no agreed-upon strategy to compress their respective resources.

Given the recent developments, several concerned stakeholders have asked politicians from the South, particularly leaders of the Southwest APC, to work together and refrain from using “bring him down” political techniques, lest the area lose the 2023 presidential ticket and chance to the north.

According to a Presidency source, the North is actually waiting for the South, particularly the Southwest, to straighten itself out and perform some housekeeping before presenting one candidate.

They also voiced worry that the Southeast will only have a chance in either the APC or the PDP if there is unity among its presidential candidates on the one hand and with the Southwest on the other.

There is concern that power elites in the North would not abandon their plan to exploit former President Jonathan and Amaechi to undermine the South-South accord.

In separate interviews with The Guardian, a writer, Professor Adebayo Williams, former Minister of Communication, Adebayo Shittu, former vice-chairman of the APC in Lagos State, Fouad Oki, and an APC chieftain from Osun State, Dr. Laid Tella, warned that the North has not shown serious signs of willingness to relinquish power.

They asked Osinbajo, Tinubu, Fayemi, Amosun, and others not to let personal goals trump regional opportunity.

Professor Williams, commenting on the incident, stated that the South can continue to act ignorantly while the truth remains that the North considers government and power as the only industries it has in Nigeria to support itself.

“Southern politicians do not need to be informed that the north is not eager to relinquish power, and if it does, it will not be done quickly,” he says. They’re just waiting for Southwest to make the biggest error of all by failing to form a united front.

“It is not a moral or ethical question to ask if the North is prepared to lose power if the South does not pull itself together.”

The don warned, particularly the Southwest political actors, that Nigeria risks becoming what the Democratic Republic of the Congo is today if its stakeholders refuse to face reality between now and next year, saying, “It beggars belief why the north hopes to hang on to power after President Muhammadu Buhari’s eight years and the South is not serious.”

Oki stated that the north cannot be faulted if, after all these years, individuals who were thought to know better politically in Yoruba country continue to abandon selfish politics. Because of selfish interests, they continue to engage in “destructive politics.”

“If we infer that the North is truly unwilling to yield power in 2023, so far, for now, the key presidential hopefuls on the APC platform are from the South, and the ones from the north, like Governor Yahaya Bello, are not the danger,” Oki writes.

“I’m perplexed as to why someone would call the vice president a traitor just because he proclaimed his intention to run for president.” Let us wait and see if Fayemi, Amosun, and others would be labeled similarly if they announce to run for office as Osinbajo has.”

He believes the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) will support the north. “Anyone who doubts it should consider that the bulk of the party’s presidential hopefuls are from the north.” Governor Nyesome Wike and former Governor Ayo Fayose are not considered major candidates. I also question the sincerity of those from the Southeast. The South looks to be uninterested in securing the presidential nomination next year.”

Shittu believes it is critical for the ruling party to hold a respectable presidential primary election, or else the APC will be disgraced in the general election.

He stated that it does not matter where the president is from in Nigeria as long as the individual has the ability to lead properly.

However, Dr Laid Tella, an APC chieftain in Osun State, stated that the Yoruba nation is in a state of turmoil.

“The Southwest is not really playing politics the way it should,” Tella remarked, adding that “you will not blame the north if it decides to run a candidate.” Politics is a numbers game.”

Tella questions whether Fayemi and Amosun are truly running for office and advises them not to become accustomed to playing spoiler roles in the Southwest.

Dr Kayode Ajulo, the convener of Progressive Lawyers for Osinbajo, stated that now is not the time to fling dirt, but rather to objectively analyze who would serve the interests of the South and the entire country, based on hands-on experience, competency, and capacity.

He noted that, despite the fact that Tinubu catapulted Osinbajo into the political spotlight, first by appointing him as Commissioner for Justice and Attorney General in Lagos State, and later by nominating him as President Muhammadu Buhari’s running mate in the 2015 election, the ties that bind Tinubu and Osinbajo are nothing more than shared commitments to public service. “Certainly, such links do not have to be severed because they are both running for the same elective position.”

When approached, Amosun’s spokesperson, Bola Adeyemo, said he couldn’t confirm if his boss is interested in running. “Let’s wait and see how the situation develops.”

BUT, according to the Yoruba Ronu Forum, a Southwest socio-political organization, it was the time for the Igbo to lead Nigeria after Buhari.

The organization warns the North against pulling the South out of the presidential election in 2023.

“We have watched with keen interest the pace at which some northern leaders are showing off their skills with manipulative and cunning steps at cajoling the South out of rotational presidency through acts of betrayal and subterfuge, and these actions are more common within the PDP enclaves,” said Akin Malaolu, president of the forum.

“If we consider the choices taken some months ago by the Northern Governors from the camps of PDP and APC, as well as some of their arrogant buddies, that they will not obey the rotational presidency arrangement in practice, we see the APC following in the same vein.”

“Going forward, we are equally pleased to see so many wants and efforts poured by the whole southern leadership to caution the North to respect agreements and the bravery to call the North’s bluff.” With greater pressure and dialogues, the North will yield to superior arguments and return to appreciating the importance of harmonious relationships in our diversity.

“However, in this continuing political war, we have seen greater interest demonstrated thus far by Southeast leaders whose turn it is to carry the mantle of leadership in the country.” Given enough time, the spirit of unity within them, as well as backing from all around Nigeria, would convert into success for a Southeast president of our dreams.”

“As thought leaders in the Southwest, we are both in spirit and in body with all of the Southeast political hopefuls for the Presidency in 2023, and this will stay with us regardless of any political party,” he stated. Every Igbo candidate is also a candidate for us.

“From this vantage point, we urge all Southeast presidential contenders to demonstrate an absolute love for oneness and unity in their collective activity, putting an end to the era of individualism and unnecessary independence among their ranks and files.”

We are also assuring our Southeastern brethren that we are in discussions with some friends and leaders in the Southwest and the North about the need for them to shelve their unsavory interests because it will be the turn of their zones later, for example, the Southwest’s turn will be in 2039 when the North will have taken its eight years beginning in 2031 and ending in 2039. Those who cannot wait can engage in other activities such as farming, fishing, mountain climbing, and so on.

“Our view is that we must all work together to establish an Igbo guy as President of Nigeria.” We are committed to the Igbo presidency.”

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