Somebody, who did not give his name, wrote in one of the PDP WhatsApp Fora, to the effect that intense political preparations for the 2023 Presidential Election, are being done by the two major political parties and the Civil Society Groups.
He says that the two major political parties have not zoned the Presidential slot to any part of the country.
He says that inspite of this, PDP has a good chance 9f winning the Presidency. I immediately felt that this openion is one-sided, as we expect who the Presidential hopefuls are, at least, in the other major political party, moreso, as the APC enjoys a position of incumbency and can not be wished away, just like that.
He has not told us what informs him of the optimism with regards to the PDP winning the 2023 election. But we are not surprised, since the forum, within which he posted the write-up, is a PDP Forum. If the APC had the chance of replying, it would have said that such a writer was misinformed and would have gone ahead to paint a bright picture for the APC. This is as it should be. But issues of which of the two parties would win the Presidency, need dispassionate analysis, far removed, from party membership sentiments, so as to be useful to the diverse public.
Be that as it may, I do not shy away from political calculations as a student of politics. He says that both the APC and PDP should zone their Presidential tickets to both North and South of the country. To say so, therefore, is not to zone. What he is saying, is that the party should not zone and that it should be left open, but to two likely candidates- that is to say- Kwankwaso in the north and Peter Obi in the South, and that either of them, all in the PDP, could win the election. However, he says it would be keenly contested between the APC and the PDP. But he has given no chance to the emergence of a third, or even a fourth, party. This is based on his assumption, that only the two major parties will participate and make it.He may be wrong and he may be right. As it is with politics, anything could happen. There could be more parties, and there could be less number of parties.There is still enough time for the unpredictable to happen. On this, let us wait and see.
But assuming, as he does , that only two parties will participate, and even if they are more, he could see the PDP, throwing up, either Kwankwaso, or Peter Obi. But he also said that the contest would be keen, between the APC, and the PDP. But he has not told us who the candidates for the Primaries are, or would be, in the APC and who would eventually be contesting against the PDP, in the actual elections, and which zone, such a candidate will be representing, or even as he says, with regards to the PDP, that APC “will zone it, to both North and South ” .
Since he assumes two parties will be keenly contesting against each other, we assume that he should know that it will be impossible for the PDP to contest against itself.
For a dispassionate analysis , we will have to put the prospective candidates against each other, both within the individual parties and against each party.
He has left his doors of analysis, wide open. For a better analysis, all situations mentioned above , and even more, would have to be put into consideration. Given what he says in his analysis, if it is to be useful at all, as an analysis that would help understand what would happen nationally, then it would have been based on certain assumptions. One of them is that though he has mentioned the APC, we will assume that it will not participate in the election and it would be Kwankwaso and Peter Obi, alone,in which case we may assume that he means that one of them will cross over to the APC, and would be accepted, as its presidential candidate, in both the party’s primaries and in the general election.
However, we know that this would be impossible, therefore, we would assume that the APC too, would come up with its Presidential candidate, for both the primaries and the campaigns rounding up with the elections, since we know that Buhari can not contest again, as he would be serving his final term. But the issue of Buhari too, would be an assumption. It almost happened before and it can happen again. This is more so, as the constitution is undergoing a process of amendment, and with what we know of the present National Assembly, they could make it possible for a third-term, or even postpone the 2023 elections . It is only an assumption, but the signs are there, if one may ask.
Secondly, even if the third-term is not possible, could it be possible that the present government and the APC may not be willing to conduct a clean election that would usher in a new government other than itself ? Again, the signs are there, and only time will prove us wrong.
Even if they are willing to hand over and conduct an election, is the environment such that would allow the conduct of any election at all ? Not to talk about delivering a clear ,untainted election? I hope we are bearing in mind the current general insecurity, all over the country ( in the north ), IPOD in the East, and Oduduwa Republic, in the west( most especially if APC does not give Tinubu , or any body from the west, its Presidential ticket,( as it is being suspected now)
Even if the Oduduwa scenario does not happen, and with the denial of the APC ticket to the west, wouldn’t the instability in the west not re- occur, as it happened, during Abiola’s time in 1993 ?
Again, if the APC decides to hold the Presidency in the north , what are the prospects of the workability of this , first in the north, then the rest of the country ? Would Buhari still be able to maintain his cult-like hold on the north, in view of the present disappointment with the poor governance ? What would the effect of the equally cult-like hold of the northwest by Kwankwaso be ?. Can the “scattered” support( all over Nigeria ), for Atiku be ? Can it be held in check, and if so, by who ? What would be the reaction of the ordinary northerners on the likely continuation of an APC government in view of the performance of Buhari and the current security and economic hardships ?
The only way the Buhari factor can continue to hold sway, is, if the APC promises the poor northerners a religious jihad. This may be so because tribe and religion have proven to be effective tools of control by the northern power elite. It may be effective, because, as we know, both religion and tribe are the opium of the masses in the north . How effective this would be, is not known yet, because the APC is not a religious party, and may not be intended to be so. The situation with regards the APC, is really complex.
But, assuming the party does not implode ,from its current problems, and is able to get around it, would it be trusted to run a clean, clear, and fair elections ? Even if it does, would the APC, under any condition be willing to hand over to a government that is not its own ?.
Then of course, we go back to the PDP. Let us assume, it will get over its current leadership problems, and I believe, it would, given its long years of experience, and maturity, would it be able to run an effective opposition politics and campaigns, against the APC, which will be trusting more in its “power of incumbency”, than its competence and capability in governance ? Incumbency in Nigeria, is really a strong factor. We have seen how Buhari’s government has, over the years, consolidated its strangle-hold on power ,and has successfully, put all the three arms of government, in its pockets. Unless the APC implodes, it will present a herculean task to break it . But that is, if ,Buhari, the main unifier of the party, breaks out, from his usual cocoon of tacitunity and silence, inaction and decides to be proactive. This again, we shall see.
Coming back to the PDP, and the two prospective candidates, we can say a few things, about their candidature, perhaps from a subjective point of view since we do not have the opportunitytocompare with any APC candidate, as we have not been given any name . Therefore, we will hold, all other things constant ( mutatis mutandis).
No doubt, the two are( talking of both Kwankwaso and Obi), excellent Presidential materials. But just like they are excellent, so are also other Presidential hopefuls that are not the subject of our discussion here . There are quite a number. We do not know where he places Atiku Abubakar . He has a lot of influence and a lot of money, to throw around in prosecuting his campaigns . Who ever ignores him, does so, at his peril. No doubt,he
is ambitious, and is willing, to do anything, to achieve his ambition. While one can not take that away from him, his ticket has proven, so far, to be that, which can not and would not fly. There are a complex of factors involved here . It is unfortunate for him that all forces are arrayed against his Presidential ambition . And to further complicate matters, age is not on the correct side for him. If he would be riding on the ticket of the north, we think ,so far, the north, has learnt its bitter lessons, with fielding candidates that are either, on the other side of age, or health,or both. If we were close enough to Atiku, we would advice that he jettison his Presidential ambition, and aim to be a king- maker, by making available, to a candidate , of his choice, the fear-some, and enormous financial and other arsenals, which he is reputed to have. It would seem from past history and experience that the position of President, is neither for sale, nor to any one who expresses that as his ambition. The only possible exception is Buhari, and even for him, many complex factors combined to make his ambition come true. We are not sure this would repeat itself. He ought to have learned from the 2019 elections, both at his party ‘s primaries where he used a humongous amount of money, the Presidential election, and the aftermath court cases, on the elections. Of course, he is qualified, but just as it is with some people, things did not just add up.
As we said earlier, Peter Obi is an excellent Presidential material. He could make an excellent President. But a candidate from the eastern geo-political area, would hardly make it, for obvious reasons . This has to do ,partly, with politics of numbers, at the national level, and the politics that has to do with his place of origin.
Nigeria fought a bitter civil war and the East,( or Biafra), was clearly defeated, although, there was room for reconciliation,rehabilitation and reconstruction. But memories die hard ,unfortunately . Moreso, the Igbos style of making its obviously genuine case, has been seen by certain sections of the country, as suspect, in the kind of tripodal politics Nigeria plays. This is more so because the other two major tribes in the tripodal politics are usually more united while obeying hierarchy, but this is a scarce commodity with regards to the Igbo tribe, as they are known to be republican in nature which does not help its national politics. Moreso, the issue of the struggle for self- determination, through the so-called Biafra, has tended not to earn from them genuine sympathy of major groups that should have been of help in the Igbos’ quest for the Presidency. At most, what it could get is the Vice-Presidential slot in the north’s usual “divide and rule tactics”, this time against the Yorubas. It is assumed that one can not struggle to lead a united country, while the people are asking for secession. They may have a genuine case, but the method of pursuit of it is faulty. The Yorubas are doing a similar thing, but are waiting for the time to materialise, when it becomes clear the north would not concede to the region, the Presidential slot .
It should also be noted, that it is always a popular parlance that the Presidency is not about knowledge of the economy alone, or commerce, which Peter Obi and the rest of his Igbo brothers, are very much known for. It is about much more than that, and it is always considered all- encompassing. Management of the diversity of the country politically, is more important, than just commercial and economic considerations. Again, does the prospective candidate have population to back up his ambition ? Therefore, an Igbo Presidential bid may not succeed, partly because of the “big brother north”. They can only come in, as a partner, to the north, but it can not be the other way round.It is unfortunate. But this shows our structures are faulty, because they enable dominance by certain groups.
There is also the issue of rivalry ,between the Igbos and the Yorubas, which seems to have been going on since the creation of Nigeria as one country . We coild see that this rivalry reared its head,, just after independence in 1960.
Then of course, is the north’s understanding of this rivalry and the north’s “divide and rule ” tactics. A person from the south-south may be tolerated by “big brother north”, but only as a “partner “,but certainly not, as a boss. The “boss” situation can only happen, as a last resort, only as part of achieving an unknown strategy, and because of the oil and gas in that region that will be a revenue earner . If it becomes very necessary, then the person’s demographics, will be important consideration, for the smooth sailing of the “partnership”.
Finally, no matter what happens, the north will always manuovre its way and retain the Presidency. A reknown journalist of north-central extraction is said to have referred to the Presidency and politics, as the main”industry” of the northerners. Yet the north is not able to save itself as it is considered “the poverty capital of the world ” . What a sad commentary on the north and the northerners.
We ask, would politics and the Presidency turn out to be an industry that will turn around the misfortunes of the north and make the livihood of its people better ?
It is possible, if the north does not field people with the following characteristics:
1) old people;
2) sick people with terminal illnesses;
3) religious bigots, narcissists, nepotistic people;
4) poor managers of the economy and the country’s diversity;
5)people who are not knowledgeable .
The above five are bad indices, and would not work to get the north out of the situation of being the “poverty capital of the world”. We need the opposite of these indices which, when northerners have them ,would enable the nirtherners to also unify the country’s diverse groups and bring unity essential for growth and development.
If the north is able to do this and provide security and run an all-inclusive government, then even the enemies of the north would not mind for the north to remain as a place where politics and the Presidency is the “industry”, while the East, the commercial nerve-center, the west ,the financial and diplomatic hub of the nation , the south-south- the revenue earner of the nation; and the north-central- the food basket and the belt that ties the nation together, as one.
Having all of the above in mind, although there may be others, but in the interim, we can see Senator Musa Rabiu, Kwankwaso from the north, fitting the shoes of the President come 2023. This seems to be so, because, mutatis mutandis, given his profile and experience, and the ability to united diverse groups, he seems to fit all the qualifications cited above, he is young, healthy, knowledgeable, not a religious bigot, not known to be narcissist, and nepotistic, but selfless and patriotic and one who can manage the country’s diversities very well and commands an ideological and almost cult-like following, not only in the northwest but in virtually all parts of the country.
His only impediment is one, and only one : he is not known to have all the finances, he will need to run his campaign full blast. That is where people like Atiku can come in to support.
As things are now, the north runs the risk of retribution from the rest of Nigeria, due to the current bad governance, and the need for the north to redeem itself, before it is condemned, irredeemably into the political dust- bin of Nigeria; and that is, if Nigeria survives the present on- slought as one. We need the “political and Presidential industry ” to be useful, just not for the north alone, but for the whole country.
Joshua Ephraim writes from Abuja