Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State

BY UCHE CHRIS

Most southerners are gloating over the Edo election victory for the PDP as if it was a ‘miracle’ of a sort; well the truth is that it is not. Indeed, it was a deliberate strategy toward 2023. Of course, every politics is local; so local factors may have contributed to the outcome. But in the Nigerian election process, especially involving national agencies such as INEC and police, local factors often count for less. For instance, why did local factors work in Edo but not in Kogi and Osun states for the same governorship elections? The answer is federal strategic interest.

There is a grand political design unfolding toward 2023, of which most southerners are, as usual, impervious and unaware, cocooned in their elite debauchery and liberal delusion of democracy. The truth is that democracy is unknown and unacceptable to the northern establishment in power, and it is being manipulated to achieve a predetermined political end. Simply put, President               Buhari wants to retain power in the north and Edo is a clear proof of it.

And here is the reason: It is no longer about the party to win or retain power – PDP or APC; it is simply now about north and south. APC has served its purpose for the north, now it is the turn of the PDP to continue the agenda. PDP would have also won Ondo if it had fielded Agboola Ajayi, but for its shortsightedness. But it doesn’t really matter now; the job is already half done and the sentiment has become so strong now that a southern APC president is quite unlikely anymore. This is the plot and it may be the end of a united, peaceful and stable Nigeria.

Two imperceptible political moves are going on simultaneously: The increasing and steady estrangement and demonization of the APC as a party, and the further consolidation of northern stronghold and leadership on the country. Generally, it is very unlikely that the APC can win any presidential poll in the country at any time in the near future given the worsening mood, the conditions of the people, and the perception of the party. In fact Buhari’s reelection was contrived and never the real outcome of the people’s will.

So, his successor has a Mount Everest to climb for the party to continue in government. The political situation that led to the ouster of the PDP from power was not as bad as the present conditions under the APC. Throughout the country and across all categories of Nigerians, there is increasing angst and disenchantment with the present condition of things. It would amount to crying to the wind to expect the party to win another election without massive distortion of the result.

Secondly, northern political and economic power is being institutionalised through policies, projects, and programmes, such as the new $1.9 billion Kano-Niger rail, massive agricultural funding, CAMA, VAT, Stamp Duty, the Water Bill, Social Media and Hate Speech Bills, as well as strategic appointments etc. All these are intended to ensure that northern is entrenched. No northern president will uproot them.

The political and institutional framework of the country has been so skewed in the past eight years to the advantage of the north that another northern president, particularly a Fulani, would be a political disaster for the south. It does not matter under which party – even including the PDP. Short of restructuring, Nigeria needs a southern president in the immediate and short-term to redress the present inequity, divisiveness and imbalance in the country. Without that the south would have lost the country for good because once the north captures PDP it will be over for the south.

Another northern Fulani president for Nigeria after eight years of hegemonic indifferent to the yearnings and sensitivities of the other regions will end all the pretensions to democracy, political equality and southern aspirations. PDP may feel legitimately entitled to the power given its incredible rebound from near oblivion, but its zoning of the presidency to the north is a double-edged sword that will give it power achieved with massive southern support, which it rightly deserves; however, it may also be presiding over the political demise and economic subjugation of the south.

It is a Catch 22 for the PDP and the south, which has sustained it these eight years. Its only option for a northern president is to commit irrevocably to restructuring the country without which a northern president will be political suicide. Again, here is the reason: A northern president, especially another Fulani, such as Atiku Abubakar, Aminu Tambuwal, even Emir Sanusi etc would not drastically change the advantageous policies the north presently enjoys – particularly if he is from the Northwest. There may cosmetic adjustments, but nothing really significant.

Besides restructuring, the PDP must ensure that the next president does not come from the Northwest which is the home of the Fulani, because it will further entrench the power of the Fulani and probably create a political culture that only the zone can produce the president from the north. This must not happen to ensure the future and survival of the country, especially in the short term. But ultimately, the future of the south lies in its hands. Presently, given the lessons from the Buhari presidency, it would be most foolhardy to entrust its fate to others.

Asiwaju Bola Tinubu is the worst political victim of the Edo debacle, and many southerners are cashing in on it. This is a most unfortunate disservice to the south because he still remains a strategic southerner to lead the coming political fight for the country. Obviously, he has played bad politics especially in the south, and the APC experiment is the greatest political mistake of his political career, but a General does not die in a battle. There is still a war ahead to fight, and we must recognize his likely contribution.

For the Southeast’s aspiration for the presidency, I say, now is not the time. They cannot withstand the coming political fight; they had fought and lost, so it is the time for others. The aberration of Imo State is part of the strategic policy to keep them divided. As Chief Arthur Eze said recently, the Igbo are still divided and can easily be settled. So, this fight is not for them, and so also the presidency, at least, in 2023. There are others more capable politically and economically to lead the charge for real political change in the country.

Past political sentiments should not be allowed to interfere and scuttle the quest for a new Nigeria. It should be a collective southern and Middle Belt coalition, no matter who leads it. Nigeria faces an existential threat and it is in the hand of the south to accept the responsibility or abdicate it.