The much-anticipated realignment of political forces has begun in earnest. That which was predicted would follow the outcome of the presidential primaries of the two leading political parties – the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) – is already upon us! We have seen a gale of defections and carpet-crossing from APC to PDP and vice-versa, but it would seem the PDP has the upper hand at the moment in that more big wigs have moved in its direction than away from it.
Two fringe parties – ex- Governor Peter Obi’s adopted Labour Party and ex-Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso’s New Nigerian People’s Party – are making limited waves. Obi, who dumped the PDP when it became clear he stood no chance of clinching the its flag, is making waves among a section of the youths and especially so in his native Igboland. It remains to be seen how national he can make his appeal within such a short time, especially with his perceived Igbo-centrism and a past that is anything but salutary.
Kwankwaso, on his own, is part and parcel of the traditional, even conservative, Northern aristocratic oligarchy. Bereft of ideology and decrepit in sound theoretical understanding of the country and its problems, Kwankwaso’s bourgeois politics are, at best, intra-class squabbles struggling for elevation to the national level. How far Obi and Kwankwaso can travel in their chosen course – and cause – remains to be seen! Without firm structures all over the country, their feet dangle in the air! If they stay the course, they may be political parties for the future.
But they hardly stay the course here! I have lost count of how many times a Third Force political movement raises hope only to fizzle out as fast as they came. Inability to agree between Obi and Kwankwaso, which is the hallmark of Nigeria’s prebendal politics of greed, selfishness, and power-mongering, points in the direction of another Paradise Lost and Hope Deferred – if not betrayed!
Realistically, therefore, APC and PDP remain the parties to beat in 2023, unless a miracle happens. While the APC elected Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, a Southern (Yoruba/Southwest) Muslim as its flag bearer, the PDP, desperate to return to power, jettisoned its own constitutional guarantees of power rotation to allow Atiku Abubakar (Fulani, Northern Muslim) to attempt to succeed another of his ilk. For many, especially in the South and Middle Belt, Atiku is a hard sell. But for his own Fulani people and their supporters and surrogates in the North, he is their best chance of clinging to power after eight ruinous years by another of their own, Muhammadu Buhari. Morality is not the name of the game. Political theorists have argued from time immemorial about the place or desirability of morality and ethics in politics.
Those defecting from the APC to PDP are doing so basically for religious and ethnic considerations: They want a continuation of Fulani/Northern/fundamentalist Islamic hegemony. Their consideration is not good governance or the desideratum of national unity, peace, justice and cohesion. Selfish interest propels their action.
On the other side are many politicians of the South who are also reviewing their political stand basically on the basis of region – but not necessarily religion. There is, however, a critical mass in the South that would, if achievable, want a combination of a Southern and Christian presidency come 2023. In the absence of both, they will have to weigh their options and set their priorities or stand the risk of losing out altogether.
One of the most vociferous of those insisting that the Presidency must return to the South in 2023 is the erstwhile Governor of Ekiti State, the enfant terrible Ayodele Fayose. Fayose is fighting two battles at one and aiming to kill two birds with one stone. He is protesting the perceived injustice meted out to his friend and brother-governor, Nyesom Wike of Rivers State. He is also fighting for the Presidency to come to the South.
PDP was wrong to have thrown its presidential contest open in flagrant violation of its own constitutional provisions on zoning. Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State was wrong to have pitched his tent with Atiku, thereby letting the Turakin Adamawa snatch victory from Wike who, four years ago, had backed the same Tambuwal all the way in the PDPpresidentialprimary. Atiku was wrong to have offered Wike the running mate slot only to renege afterwards and give the slot to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State. Again, the PDP leadership and Atiku erred when they set up a committee to pick a running mate, the committee voted overwhelmingly in favour of Wike but they went rogue and ditched the committee. Wheelers and dealers must know they have a price to pay! Desperadoes often box themselves into a corner!
Now, Fayose and some other PDP leaders in the South and Middle Belt are saying they will have none of that. For Fayose, who hardly minces words once his mind is made up on an issue, it is the turn of the South to occupy Nigeria’s Presidency come 2023. Parroting Tinubu’s Emi l’okan (it’s my turn), Fayose insists that Awa South l’o kan; meaning, it is the South’s turn to shine! It could not have been better said!
Bolawole can be reached via email: email@example.com Phone: +2347052631058