–By Gbenga Bright
The gales of endorsement blowing around the country with the most recent beneficiary Bola Ahmed Tinubu, APC Presidential candidate by a section of leadership of the Pan-Yoruba Social Cultural Group, Afenifere, led by Pa Reuben Fasoranti, last weekend is yet another wake up call for the leadership of Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, Northern Elders Forum, NEF, and other northern social-political groups to endorse one of their own in person of Wazirin Adamawa, Atiku Abubakar of the PDP for 2023 Presidential election.
Their is no doubt, that the 2023 political experiment is obviously itching towards sectional/religious, tribal and ethnic dimension unfortunately.
Briefly, let’s recall prior to APC Presidential primary, Tinubu who is now the party candidate of the APC, said Emilokan, meaning “it his turn”and in other to cajole, deceive, mobilize and co-opt other Yorubas from South West region into his life long selfish ambition, he capped it with Yoruba lo’kan. That is; (It is the turn of the Yorubas). While chorusing his Emilokan lyrics, Tinubu did not bother about the obvious fact that the Yorubas previously had eight years with Obasanjo as President, neither did he care to recognise the current political representation of the Yorubas in the Buhari led APC administration, where Prof Yemi Osinbajo, a Yoruba man, serving as Vice President.
Looking at the Labour Party Presidential candidate and political activities that has followed his emergence so far, it is clear that Mr Peter Gregory Obi’s support base and stronghold is strictly from the South East region.
It is no longer a hidden strategy that the bulk majorities of Ndigbos will vote for a man they see as their own son. Interestingly, all Peter Obi’s outing, consultations and street walks organised by his handlers had been Ndigbolized. Extraying the “Annual Igbo Day 2022” so far monitored across, all indices shows that majority of the Igbos are prepared to cast their ballot for Peter Obi, particularly those who reside outside the shore of Igbo land and igbo youths. It is also important to note the support Peter Obi has been enjoying via the endorsement by Ohaneze Ndigbo worldwide. He has received such support promptly with signals and ingredients of ethnic consideration. Their agitation has been echoed through an agenda that the zone is yet to produce a President. Yes, they have a genuine ground to aspire, at this time, how will Nigerians reconcile the separationist agenda of a Biafran country, led by Mazi Nnamdi Kanu with the Presidential ambition of Obi? In the South East Currently, the proscribed Independent People of Biafra, IPOB, run a parallel government. Their agitation strongly contradicts the aspiration of of Peter Obi under the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The fears of Nigerians about this situation can not be dismissed.
Aside Obi’s ambition, South East has been another strong PDP political base since 1998. More reason, Labour Party and PDP will slog it out in the ballot sharing. The two parties will record significant electoral outing in south east.
The Presidential candidate of the PDP, H E., Atiku Abubakar, former Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Atiku Abubakar, a northerner from North East zone, Adamawa State to be precise, is seen by most Nigerians as the only nationalistic candidate who has massive political networking and contacts across all regions of the Nigerian space. North east where he comes from is another zone yet to also produce a President like the Igbos. Of course, going by Atiku’s experience in the public and private sector as a retired deputy director of customs, experience in business internationally and his venture into politics, non of the candidates in the race have such governance experience, charisma and democratic tentacles as Atiku. The credentials of PDP been a ruling party before now also gave its candidate the required political stretch that cut across every part of Nigeria.
It is instructive to note that only Atiku Abubakar is yet to secure or lobby for endorsement among the three frontliners in the Presidential race. He has been consulting, meeting, engaging, strategizing, visiting every part of the country including foreign engagements with his blueprint and unified 5-point agenda for Nigeria and Nigerians.
If going by his popularity and acceptability, more so that he picked a Christian running mate from Delta State, South South region, which is another PDP enclave, which is also a plus for the PDP against the Tinubu’s APC with Muslim/Muslim ticket, it’s important at this junction that the apex body of the northern social cultural and other political groups must take a bold step now and endorse and adopt Atiku Abubakar of the PDP. He is undoubtedly, a Pan-Nigerian candidate. Atiku symbolises a bridge between the North and South. This is a wake-up-call to the Arewas.
In the north their is also a Rabiu Kwakwanso of New Nigerian Peoples Party, NNPP, another political weight from the north, Kano State precisely, but NNPP’s political spread in the coming 2023 election is limited to northern zone. Frankly speaking, he does not have the required spread that can win election for him now. It is too slim!
The attempts by some of the candidates and certain groups to regionalise the next Presidential election is already generating tension and ethnic consciousness.
Aside Atiku of the PDP, the two other dominant parties like APC and LP have through their candidates lunched a regional engagements to drive home their ambition. It has degenerated to an abysmal extent of large manifestation of ethnic inclination laced with regionalistic tendencies which are publicly exhibited for the purpose of electoral gains. As we approach 2023 poll, I doubt if the election won’t be turned to almost what looks like “Wa-Zo-Bia competition.
If that is it, Arewa can not be left out in the ongoing regional scheming and dominance by Tinubu, Obi and their handlers. For a fact, no region will denounce or reject its own! Let’s put this in our left hand for safe keep, after the defeat of APC and its candidates in 2023, for obvious reasons, APC may restructure back to a mere regional party like the days of Alliance for Democracy, (AD), while PDP will maintain its national outlook.
Arewa Consultative Forum, Arewa Youths Consultative Forum, (AYCF), and the NEF must not throw away their own. They must also adopt and endorse one their own. The politics of regionalism and sectionalism to mobilize support and clinch the Presidency has been activated. Undoubtedly, this will play a significant part in our political experiment next year.
There are no issues in interest articulation cum political aggregation, but we should do so with a national reflection and posture. Suprisingly, Tinubu’s running mate, Kashim Shettima, a Kanuri man, who hails from Borno State, North East zone like Atiku Abubakar, understood the sectional gimmicks and ethnic propaganda been deployed by his principal, Tinubu, against other zones, particularly the North. He prefers to remain mute and look away for his selfish political agenda. Shettima’s struggle is all about self just like Chief emilokan of Osun. He is simply a willing tool for conspiracy!
Let’s look further at what tribal politics of the APC Presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu has led the previously respected and organised apex Yoruba social-cultural organisation, Afenifere to. The battle for the soul of the Pan-Yoruba organisation, Afenifere, between Pa Reuben Fasoranti and Pa Ayo Adebanjo, has continued, with the duo laying claims to the headship of the group.
Pa Fasoranti in an interview aired by Impact TV Africa, yesterday, said there would be no more meetings at Adebanjo’s home, adding the report that he (Fasoranti) stepped down as a misrepresentation and unacceptable. We have adopted Tinubu and Adebanjo can not change that, he said.
Reacting to the crisis, Pa Adebanjo said: He (Fasoranti) has no constitutional right to preside over Afenifere any longer. “According to him, Fasoranti said he was tired but he is now causing confusion”. The two highly revered Yoruba leaders are now at each others throat arising from the selfishly induced ambition of Tinubu. “As students of history, we shall be having a lot in stock to chew in the nearest future”. The last is yet to unfold but as we approach 2023 general election, more intrigues and crisis are bound to brew up.
Tinubu who sees 2023 Presidency as his personal entitlement have successfully divided, destabilized and disorganize the Pan-Yoruba group just as a candidate. The group is obviously heading towards a serious chaotic session!
In the country now, aside the major Niger-Delta Groups, Arewa Consultative Forum is the only social cultural group that have remain apolitical as the race to 2023 intensifies. Atiku Abubakar must not be left alone in the ongoing national constest. He is the only candidate with massive national spread across all the geo-political zones with structures everywhere. What is ACF waiting for?
The end will continue to justify the means. For Arewa to equally endorse and mobilise for Atiku Abubakar will be a patriotic move and a plus aside the fact that it will also give him a more better home support, it will position him better and guarantee victory for him and his party, because Atiku’s political acceptability and network cut across other zones. Significantly, Arewa’s support is not and can not be seen as a mere ethnic card but an unavoidable trail and established adoption of a pattern pioneered, promoted and championed by other zones through their leadership
Oluade Gbenga Bright
Writes from Abuja.