Taming of Southeast and Southwest politicians

The different resolutions, products of political subterfuge coming from southern and northern governors in the last three weeks is perhaps why members of both PDP and APC are tarred with the same brush of unscrupulous men of many words.

First it was the southern governors who after their Asaba meeting rejected open grazing, declared their constitutional right to collect VAT and insisted on state police to address the crisis of insecurity in their various states. Instead of restricting themselves to issues that could promote competitive federalism, they decided to turn an intra-party affair of picking a party’s presidential candidate to an interparty affair by declaring that: “The forum reiterates its commitment to the politics of equity, fairness and unanimously agrees that the presidency of Nigeria be rotated between Southern and Northern Nigeria and resolved that the next president of Nigeria should emerge from the southern region.”

But for their intrigue, the southern governors understand it is only southeast and south-south that had invested heavily in PDP from 1999 that can compete for PDP presidential ticket while it is only the southwest which contributed to Buhari’s APC victory in 2015 and 2019 that can aspire to present a presidential candidate.

Their intrigue however provided an opportunity for the more cohesive and more astute northern governors to put the more divided southern governors always at war with themselves in their place. Rejecting their demand for power shift in 2023, the northern governors joined by their emirs declared: “The Southern Governors’ Forum’s statement that the presidency must go to the south as quite contradictory with the provision of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999) as amended”.

And also reacting to the southern governors’ hollow and inconsequential resolution, Hakeem Baba-Ahmed without restraint reminded the southern governors that if democracy is a game of numbers, the north “ will lead Nigeria the way we have led Nigeria before. Whether we are president or vice president, we have the majority of the votes and …. Why does anybody need to threaten us and intimidate us? We will get that power…”

Ambassador Yahaya Kwande, deputy chairman of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) and former ambassador to Switzerland, tried to educate the southern governors he accused of spreading confusion by reminding them that party nomination is an intra-party affair. He then took pains to explain that, “power rotation was an arrangement by the PDP and not between regions,” adding that “it is northerners in PDP were the ones demanding that the presidency should remain in the North in 2023 in order to complete the eight years tenure of the late President Umaru Yar’Adua.”

And to those who are sympathetic towards southeast quest for the PDP presidential ticket come 2023, he threw a challenge: “You go to the East and who do you get apart from those who are talking. You hardly would say this is a politician that is aspiring that is qualified by age, education, experience and so on to rule today’s Nigeria as in the case of Atiku”.

Unfortunately, Umahi had already swallowed the bait from the masters of political subterfuge that promised him APC ticket before dumping PDP he had accused of maginalising southeast which controlled Obasanjo government and according to Prof Soludo, former CBN governor, occupied all the prominent positions in Goodluck Jonathan administration.

I am not sure anyone is today listening to him lament that “it would be in bad taste to deny the southeast presidency in 2023, which he said was the desire of an average”. On his part, Hope Uzodimma who became APC Imo governor through judicial pronouncement has said “Ndigbo were not interested in producing the president of the country in 2023”. The only thing both agreed upon is that the federal government should collect and share VAT with the states contrary to southern governors’ resolution.

The fragmented southeast with PDP and APC controlling two states each are at war with themselves. Governors of Abia, Ebonyi, Imo and Anambra states with the exception Ugwuanyi, were all absent at the Lagos meeting while they did not even bother to attend the meeting of their southeast geo-political zone. With the warring governors ceding power to non-state actors, southeast has become like Zanfara State, a jungle controlled by animals who move around killing prominent and accomplished Igbo sons and daughters, torching buildings housing state institutions or owned by prominent Igbo people.

With Ambassador Yahaya Kwande, one of the grand- masters of political subterfuge declaring that rotation clause in PDP constitution dating back to 1999 was a strategy to win election, it is most unlikely PDP will pick its presidential candidate from lawless southeast where daily harvest of violent deaths is comparable only to Libya or Afghanistan.

The fate of the southwest is not however different from that of the south east. The northern rain makers led by El Rufai has worked so hard since 2015 to ensure if APC candidate ever emerges from the west, he would be too weak to confront Atiku the northern candidate that the 90 years old Kwande swore must become president before he dies.

The northern masters of politics of subterfuge understand Yoruba leaders suffer from a predilection Prof Williams describes as “a sense of self-worth”. In 1962 it was Yoruba NCNC members in the western house led by Chief Remi Fani Kayode the north used to destabilize the west. It was politicians from Awo’s Ikenne and Ogun State that were used to send him to prison. It was MKO Abiola’s National Concord that falsely claimed Awo a socialist confiscated 300 plots of Lekki land to soil his image before the 1983 presidential election.

And no sooner had Tinubu helped Buhari to secure victory in 2015 than Yoruba governors close to Buhari joined El Rufai’s mafia to sideline him. Misguided Yoruba youths during EndSARS crisis ignored media house owned by those who had been imprisoned or still in court defending their honour for stealing government money and torched his TV and newspaper houses. The video of northern legislative leaders’ visit to Tinubu in London translated to Yoruba and titled “assemblage of Nigerian looters’ has gone viral on social media. Yet Tinubu has never worked for federal government of Nigeria. The strategy of masters of political subterfuge is to weaken his political base just as they did to Awo in 1963.

And they are not leaving anything to chance. They are propping up some ambitious Yoruba governors who on their own cannot win their states as back-up for Tinubu. With divided west that never speaks with one voice, neither weakened Tinubu nor some ambitious Yoruba politicians the masters of political subterfuge plan to arrogantly impose on Yoruba and who will be rejected because of their perceived treachery, will be a match for 2023 northern candidate of either of the two parties.

Lack of strategic planning by southern politicians haunted by 50 years of betrayals is the reason Baba Ahmed, a first generation immigrant whose father, defrauded by his Benin Republic cattle business partners emigrated to Zaria as an Islamic teacher and went on to sire 33 children will declare without restraint: “We will lead Nigeria the way we have led Nigeria before. Whether we are president or vice president”.

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