Political landscape in Nigeria since the coming to power of General Muhammadu Buhari has been cloudy and hazy. The Nigerian people have been expectant of his government hitting the ground running since he has been contesting presidential election since 2003 thus expected to know where to start, the problem of Nigeria and a prepared blueprint to transforming Nigeria. The confidence of Nigerians appear to be wearing off but the new government is lashing on the fact that they have been in power a little above one month and thereby couldn’t have done much within the time frame. The disconcerting development to everything is the party politics logjam and appropriation of the title of party leader. This has been a product of one month which has no positive bearing on the life of Nigerians save for northern and south western political elites
Prior to the election, northern politicians ceded much free hand to western politicians led by former Lagos state governor, Bola Ahmed Tinubu BAT, who constitute former Action Congress of Nigeria ACN. ACN was one of the block parties that came together to form the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC. ACN contributed 5 states to the merger while the new PDP group led by Atiku contributed 5 states as well. CPC contributed only one state while ANPP contributed only 2 states with a faction of APGA bringing on table one state and APC was birthed. During the national convention of the new party, Tinubu and his south west followers were allowed to virtually pick almost all party executives like Lai Muhammed and John Oyegun, the party chairman. The party needed a presidential candidate which the then ruling PDP will find difficult pinning corruption, the choice was obviously Buhari whose block in the merger was only one state. Again, the Tinubu led south west were allowed to have a field day by producing the vice presidential candidate from their fold. Northern politicians especially the new PDP kept their cool and bidding their time since it was still pre-election period.
Just immediately after the party won the election, tone of the northern block within the party changed from peaceful coalition to combat ready. I need not quote the likes of Governor of Borno state and former Minister of National Planning, Usman Shamsudeen as both statements attributed to them were reported to have not come from them but one thing that cannot be denied is the body language and actions of the region confirming those statements since after victory at the polls. From the south west came devolving salvo from Chief Bisi Akande and ever politically belligerent Oba Akiolu of Lagos accusing the north of politics of gang up against the South West. The north has since tried to dowse the tension by calling meeting which birthed another controversy on who is eligible to attend. The cause of the whole issue is the emergence of Saraki as Senate president and Dogara as the speaker for the House of Representatives which the party hierarchy felt was a blatant disregard of its choice in Lawan and Gbajabiamila. This in turn brought up the issue of party supremacy within the rank and file of APC heavy weights.
The north feels that the team of politicians who constitute party leadership are of ACN south western stock and allowing the party to take important decisions will become tantamount to Tinubu calling the shots and this is what they will never allow. Tinubu and his cohorts see this as a betrayal while the north sees it as politically appropriate and necessary to prune Tinubu to size and deny him the avenue to dominating Nigerian politics like he did the south west. To this end, the calculation could be wrong but potentially correct and thus it could have gone as follows.
Northern Nigeria is where the influence the emirs wield can never be overestimated and Buhari is a core and thick northerner who still have tremendous respect for the emirs. The first class emirs (Sultan of sokoto and Emir of Kano) could not have sat back on their stools and watch all political activities in Nigeria unfold without contributing especially as they see present Nigeria to be in their pocket. From what is going on, it will not be out of place for one to infer that they called Buhari before he was sworn in to concentrate on administration and leave political calculations, suavity and bulldozing for Atiku and others hence, the chant of no-interference from day one by the President. As it is now, political calculations are against the south west. Tinubu’s group do not have much to offer or possess political push to cause any noticeable discontent in Buhari’s administration hence at the mercy of the north. In the south west, Tinubu’s APC controls only four out of six states in addition of Edo state making it five. But Tinubu’s influence in Edo state is not heavy rather Adams Oshiomole factor is the real deal. South-South lost power recently and from history have never rolled politically with the south west, more so Amaechi group will fight to stop any alliance with the south west considering the way Tinubu and his boys handled him after he turned coat. South East is out of Tinubu’s reach for a number of reasons. The first being that the two regions have never aligned politically and no love lost between them. The second reason is the tension between the two especially before the elections where fire of hatred was stoked from an unlikely quarters by Oba Akiolu of Lagos Island. The third is the voting pattern in Lagos where Igbo residents showed their displeasure against their host which led to three Igbo representatives emerging from Lagos state. Tinubu and his boys are still raging from that development.
The two states of Ondo and Ekiti appear to be occupied by two strong men who do not give a hoot about what Tinubu or any other politician in the south west think of them. Gov. Mimiko of Ondo state who is often referred to as Iroko is not new to political battle. His political benefactor, former president Olusegun Obasanjo tried everything possible to extinguish his political career with everything within his reach including the use of EFCC but instead, the fight propelled his political career. Today, he is almost through with his second term, surviving both President Obasanjo and Tinubu’s political onslaught. Ayo Fayose of Ekiti state is an open book to everybody. He is PDP to the core and dislikes Tinubu’s political dominance in the zone. His popularity with the commoners on the street is the backbone actuating his political strength which led him to evacuate two incumbent governors from office at two different times. He still remains the only politician to have done so in Nigeria’s history. If two of them could have gone successfully far in politics without the help of Obasanjo and Tinubu, there is no reason joining forces with them in their decline. On the other hand, Fashola and Fayemi look distant from Tinubu due to his persistent moves to limit their political ascendency for reasons or grudge best known to him.
So from the look of things, Tinubu and his south west boys look to be running out of options on how to come back. The only viable option for him is to retreat and allow the north enjoy their pyrrhic victory at the moment while gradually build political bridges across board from down up. He can only achieve this by keeping people like Oba Akiolu and Bisi Akande in check even if it means reining in on them from speaking to the press and public. Another option for him which does not look to favour him is to fight on. Persistency of this kind of fight will inevitably lead to political witch hunt and economic demolition. If this happens, Tinubu and his boys will be remembered in our history books as one time politicians.