Just as President Muhammadu Buhari began to settle down as Nigeria’s President, the South-West leaders have started biting their fingers for technically losing out of the power play. Their grouse is beyond the position of Vice President they expected at least the leadership of one of the chambers of the National Assembly writes, correspondent, BABATUNDE BANGBOSE.
It is often said that a victor after the battle realises the great benefits of the war. There is no gainsaying that the South-West region of Nigeria played a major role in the present “change” in the country. They initiated the formation of the All Progressives Congress, APC, which is a conglomeration of three other political parties, which played a vital role in the emergence of Gen. Muhammadu Buhari as the presidential candidate of the party as well as ensuring the success of the party at the recent general polls.
However, as it is, there are serious indications that the zone may benefit little or nothing from the administration of President Buhari, whom many heavyweights of the zone queued behind to achieve his long sought victory.
For instance, the outcome of the National Assembly leadership election seems to have shaped the dimension which some leaders of the South-West having been perceiving the politics of the country and administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, who came into power through the robust campaign spearheaded by the South-West political gladiators.
The National Assembly leadership election which eventually placed the North Central geopolitical zone as a powerful force in the country’s power equation through the emergence of former Governor of Kwara State, Sen. Bukola Saraki, as the President of the Senate and the number three citizen of the country, has also made the South-West look weak in the country’s political sphere.
To some stakeholders in the APC, it is believed that the emergence of Saraki and Dogara, as leaders of the National Assembly, was a quick way of asserting the position of the defected PDP members popularly known as the ‘newPDP’ in the APC by making sure that they occupy positions that would make the group relevant in the decision making process of the country and the party.
As it is now, both Saraki and Dogara have established themselves as major gladiators in the party and government of President Buhari.
With the power structure now, the South-West as a region has been relegated to the second fiddle in the structure and in order of symbolic representative, which in the end might back fire on the expected structural change, and improvement, which the South-West has been agitating for since 1999.
Although, some of the leaders of the region who participated in the last National Conference argued that since the South-West could not hold substantial position in the current power structure, it will be strategic for the region to reposition itself to assert itself in the politics of the country.
They further argued that the post of Vice President, which is held by a south westerner, does not position the region as a power force as it was in first republic, adding that the governors of the region should see regional integration as the only solution to the power deficit, which the region is currently facing.
“For the fact that the South-West played a key role in the emergence of Buhari as the President, it is expected that they would occupy a more strategic position than the Vice President,” said one of the leaders.
Although, the South-West leaders agree that the region has never benefited much in terms of federal presence in the region, even when South-West held positions of President and Speaker before 2011, but argued that there is the need for President Buhari to consider the region in the scheme of development as his government moves on.
One of the South-West leaders who spoke with Nigerian Pilot Sunday, Chief Ayo Opadokun, the National Coordinator of Coalition of Democrats for Electoral Reform, CODER, stated that it is certain that as the current power structure of the country, there is the need for the Yoruba race to restrategise and assert itself.
Drawing inference from Opadokun’s speech during a campaign for former President Goodluck Jonathan, the Yoruba race he noted would make the greatest mistake if they failed to vote for Jonathan, considering what he had in stock for the zone. He emphasised that the implementation of the National Conference report would elevate the standard of the zone which should be the main reason why all South-West people should queue behind Jonathan and that failure to do the needful may spell doom for the zone as their trust in their forged alliance with North would lead to regret.
He warned, “Certainly, as the power structure is, there is the need for the Yoruba race to restrategise on the way they would reassert themselves in the country’s politics and power equation”, Opadokun advised
Also, the spokesman of pro-National Conference, Wale Okunniyi, argued that the emergence of Saraki and Dogara was a conspiracy against the Yoruba nation by some powerful forces in the APC, stating further that it was unfortunate that the South-West did not get the position of Speaker of the House, as the region pushed forward Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila.
He condemned Senator Saraki and Hon. Dogara for not adhering to the party position, stressing that Yoruba leadership needs to restrategise on how the region would benefit in the current state of the country politics.
“What happened at the National Assembly was a conspiracy against the Yoruba nation by some powerful forces in the APC. Although, we hold the Vice President position, we lost the speakership. This calls for total restrategising by Yoruba leadership so that we can have our way in this current power structure,” said Okunniyi.
“This calls on Chief Obasanjo, Asiwaju Tinubu and other leaders of the region to think on how we will not lose out in the power structure, although, looking at the politics, it will be too early to fault the current arrangement as it is better than the arrangement under Jonathan administration, “said Okunniyi.
In his own comment, a lawyer and delegate at the National Conference, Asiwaju Bisi Adegbuyi, stressed that as for now the Yoruba race needs self-determination rather than a symbolic representation.
“Yoruba race should know what they want. Yoruba made progress when Chief Obafemi Awolowo led us. Yoruba race can make progress if the South-West governors engage in regional integration. The governors should form commission and look at the regional integration and cooperation as this would help the region as the current power structure does not favour the region,” said Adegbuyi.
“APC would initiate action towards amending the constitution to ensure devolution of power to the component units. The President should look at the manifesto of the APC which has the component of the recommendations of the Confab, because the constitution of APC promotes power devolution in the federation,” said Adegbuyi.
Also, Barrister Olayinka Sanni, a Peoples Democratic Party, PDP chieftain asserted that it is the selfish interest of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu that is pushing the South-West backward.
According to him, the system of leadership used by Tinubu in Lagos politics gave undue advantage to Bukola Saraki and Yakubu Dogara to become Senate President and Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives respectively. “He derives pleasure in cheating people in public. If they had not conducted the mock election, Femi Gbajabiamila would have won since it would happen at the same time in both chambers.”
Going by the trend of things, South-West might be forced to pressurise the President to implement the part of the recommendation of the Confab, which would be favorable to the region in terms of devolution of power and regionalism, since their hope of occupying a principal position was dashed.