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2023 presidency: Political grandstanding and flexing of the north

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By CHUMA OKEKE

In recent times we all have been bludgeoned with all sorts of intimidating but baseless propaganda about the indomitability of the northern political manoeuvres going into 2023.

Many have come to believe that..

1. The 2023 presidential election winner can only be decided by the north.

2. That the south is and will remain at the mercy of the north concerning the issues of the presidency of Nigeria.

3. That Atiku and his few other northern PDP aspirants are the only viable options for the party.

4. That the South East don’t have the votes to support any candidate that may be chosen from there because they don’t normally go out to vote.

5. That the North West and North East have block votes that cannot be marched.

6. That the north has monopoly of the ability to rig.

7. That it was only Tinubu’s command of (a doubtful) cult following in the South-West that gave APC victories over the years.

8. That issues won’t matter in the coming election and that people will just go vote as directed by the (over glorified) political ‘leaders’ who are mere jobbers.

9. That the generality of Nigerian youths and other sane citizens will not participate or make any meaningful impact on the outcome of the general election.

10. Finally, that the persecution of almost every tribe in Nigerian by the Fulanis will not matter or affect the outcome of the elections.

All these fallacious and baseless arguments as recently canvassed by some known paid political pundits should best be left within the realms of the imagination of these paid or uninformed speculators.

Any serious political actor or follower of the Nigerian political geography knows that the north cannot seriously believe they hold the four aces come 2023. History does not support their grandstanding.

 In 1959 NPC (defunct Northern Peoples Congress) could not form a government without an alliance from a section of the south.

In 1979 NPN’s (defunct National Party of Nigeria) Shehu Shagari could not clinge the needed 13 states to win. They fell back on the Supreme clCourt to chisel out 2/3 of a southern state votes (with the infamous twelve 2/3 of 19 judgement) to install him president due to the precarious state of the nation then.

In 2003 the stake of the north on (then candidate) Muhammadu Buhari flopped woefully.

In 2007 their stake on Buhari flopped again woefully even against a fellow northerner Musa Yar’Adua.

In 2011 even after all the gang-up to screen out and prune down to an anointed candidate and endorsements from the whole north, they failed again woefully against Goodluck Jonathan who was heavily supported by the South South and South East.

In 2015 Buhari managed to win in part because of the support of Tinubu’s ACN (defunct Action Congress of Nigeria) and the splinter nPDP (new PDP) group.

It is worthy of note that in all these trials their turnouts in the core North West and North East states were the same but that never clinged the seat for them until 2015 when the mismanagement of political fortunes of the PDP by Goodluck Jonathan managed to let useful allies from Rivers, Sokoto and Kano to move from his camp because of inexperience, lack of political sagacity and poor bargaining ability.

What did anyone expect when his henchmen like Olusegun Obasanjo and all those that formed his political bulwark left to the opposition?

All reasonable advice was shouted down then with the drunkenness of power of incumbency.

However, it is convenient for political jobbers to brandish the outcome of the 2015 election as the making and political dexterity of the north without giving reasons why the north was never able to do so previously in 2003, 2007 and 2011.

The south is not at the mercy of the north and will never be. From history of presidential victories nobody has been able to win the presidency if he compromises more than two out of the three states of Lagos, Kano and Rivers states.
Shagari struggled in 1979 because he lost Lagos to Awolowo and Kano to Aminu Kano.

Bashir Tofa of NRC struggled because he lost Lagos, Rivers and even Kano to Abiola.

Obasanjo was lucky because he won Kano and Rivers, though he lost Lagos to Olu Falae.
Yar’Adua and Jonathan won Lagos and Rivers.

So the north can flex all they wantbbut without either of these two southern states they go nowhere.

Buhari needed Lagos so badly in 2019 that he had to go back cap in hand to beg Bola Tinubu and his western allies.Why didn’t he go it alone if the north thought they could deliver him?

As I write Kano is going NNPP (just like they did with NEPU/PRP in 1959, 1964, 1979 and 1983).

Lagos will surely swing South in 2023 Tinubu or no Tinubu. Rivers is off limits already, so where will the north get the votes to win?

Viability of Atiku Abubakar & co. It may surprise you to know that what has bouyed Atiku’s political relevance so far has been the votes from southern states.

In 2019, the votes Atiku got from Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Anambra and Delta states combined was more than he got from almost all the North West and North East states put together.

Anambra State gave him 524,000 votes which was more than the 410,000 votes he got from Adamawa, his home state.

Akwa Ibom State gave him 395,000 votes which was only 15,000 votes less than Adamawa.

Rivers State gave him 476,000 votes which was over 60,000 more votes than Adamawa..!!!

So when we talk rubbish about viability and what people come to the negotiation table with what do we mean if not votes? How many votes are Aminu Tambuwal, Bukola Saraki, Bala Mohammed and Atiku coming to the table with?

You can’t come with my votes in your pocket to negotiate with me.

Peter Obi’s Anambra gave Atiku over half a million votes in 2019 while Adamawa, his state came with only 410,000 votes !!!

Let nobody fall under the illusion that the South East and South South do not also have their million-votes capabilities like Katsina, Kano and Kaduna.

In all the past five presidential elections of 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015 and  2019, the north has been presenting candidates and have been trying to protect one interest or the other. It was therefore expedient that they poured out to vote because they had interests at stake hence the large voters turnout.

The South-East had no stake except in 2011 when Jonathan was perceived as a close ally and an in-house candidate.

The South-East and South South had no motivation to go out and vote before then.

However in 2011 do you know that Abia brought out 1.1m, Imo 1.3m, Anambra 1.17m, Delta1.3m, and Rivers 1.8m. votes for Jonathan? Do you think those voters are all dead now? Why would anyone come out when he doesn’t have a direct interest in what’s going on?

Now do you know that in 1999 presidential election where two South-West candidates were running and the north had no interest, the total votes cast in Sokoto was 355,000 votes, Kano 800,000 votes and Yobe 311,000 votes?

These are all the same states that consistently gave Buhari over 1m votes each in 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015 and 2019. Why didn’t they come out in 1999?

So, you see, just as the good book says, ‘where your treasure lies there will your heart be’.

Next time you write that the South-East and South South don’t go to the polls find out where their heart is. Give them a South East or South South candidate and see where the votes will be.

We can match the north vote for vote and rigging for rigging when the need arises as it will soon arise.

The much touted Tinubu prowess is really becoming undistinguishable. With all the bullion vans and loss of interest in the presidential election of 2019 after the violence that greeted the Lagos State guber election, the APC only marginally won Lagos with only about 130,000 votes, Ogun State with 86,000 votes, Ekiti with 36,000 votes and Osun State was won with just 10,000 votes.They lost Ondo and Oyo states. The average turnout in those South West states was about 500,000 votes despite the fact they had a sitting vice president on the ballot. This means that the South West is already having a voting fatigue towards the north.

This was far below the votes from the South East and South South, one then wonders where the Tinubu midas touch was? May be a time for serious clout audit has come to really price these political jobbers appropriately.

It is possible that Buhari and the APC inner caucus know a thing or two about his dwindling sphere of political influence we all don’t. But a window is still open for his reawakening.We shall visit that in due course.

Issues do matter in elections and in 2023 major issues shall show up. What will Nigerians do when a cross section of the country begin to talk about replacing one Fulani with another Fulani in a country of over 235 ethnic nationalities. Do we think enough media campaign will take that off the political stage?

What will become of religious bigotry that is presently smouldering with a possibility of snowballing into something else?

What will become of the desire for restructuring come 2023? How will the populace respond to even a new party that cuts this into it’s central manifesto?
What will the state of the economy and challenging food and fuel prices do to the campaign?
What will the issue of Fulani herdsmen and general insecurity do for a carefully managed campaign?

Some how some of these issues will bear their fangs on this 2023 election whether we like it or not. EndSARS movement may even resurrect and hijack a political party, who knows.

Can the south turn the table? Yes they can. All it will take is honest desire to pursue reason. If the west decides to nail the unbecoming arrogance of the north once and for all that time would be now!!

If Tinubu retreats from his foray in empty pursuit of the APC ticket after being bruised by the north and teams up with already reasonable minds like Rotimi Akeredolu and Afenifere elders, PANDEF and Middle Belt Forum to support a detribalised sellable South East candidate like Peter Obi, no northerner can match that ticket.
What do you think will happen if the South-East/South-West ticket is floated under a new party platform made of SDP, NNPP, APGA, southern offshoot of PDP (Ekweremadu, Abaribe etc) and offshoot of APC (Tinubu & co)?

Surely the Middle Belt will not vote another Fulani man even in their dream and no southerner will depart from this course of voting in 2023.

If we decide to be less ruthless in nailing the Fulani schemes a South-East/Kwankwaso ticket with active support of the South-West will also be a winner.

In all these we can see a pathway to victory against the agressors who think the opportunity given to them by all has become a right.

The ball is in the courts of the South-West to rise above selfish mediocrity and grab the extended hand across the Niger. The South-East did it twice for Obasanjo. A good turn deserves another.

This may be the safest way against Fulani aggression, expansionism, ethnic cleansing, resources plundering and fastest way to restructuring.
Enough of this grandstanding. It’s time to take back what is ours.

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