We have come to learn of new terms and techniques from modern day Nigerian politics. Place holder, statutory delegates and other features occasioned by the new Electoral Act controversy have made 2023 polls one of the most keenly contested elections in our recent history. The most intriguing primary elections were held by the most powerful political parties in West Africa.
The Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of Sokoto state’s stroke in the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, primaries was stimulating and it indeed heralded the rebirth of the strategic ideals and tenets of democracy. Despite the resources and party machinery that stood against the victory of former Vice-president Atiku Abubakar, he came through and, as he rightly boasted, he has never failed to win the party’s ticket.
Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s ticket journey in the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, is very similar to the Atiku story. His Tambuwal came in the form of northern governors in shining armour, insisting on a power shift to the South, honouring an unwritten agreement to that effect. As a northerner, I felt proud of them, coming together, presenting a united and equitable front. I celebrated their democratic energy, and patriotic zeal, halving the otherwise unfortunate scenario, that would have bogged the party, and perhaps make it bed ridden.
Tinubu was fast, steadfast, resolute and undeterred and has taught generations of politicians the concepts and strategies of ‘political warfare.’ He has mentored us all about consistency, hardwork, focus and sacrifice. Against all odds, he prevailed and coasted to a loud victory. President Muhammadu Buhari had warned that he belonged to nobody and is there for everybody, but I guess some over-zealous players did not heed his most popular warning. Unlike former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Buhari went with his governors and democracy prevailed and flourished.
PDP has taken the lead with the initiative of a winning strategy that has a northern candidate for president, narrowing it down to a North-eastern one. Buhari’s eight years has dwarfed the idea of a North-western candidate, either as a president, or vice president, despite the overwhelming sentiments for a northerner with the huge volume of North-western votes.
The PDP has thrown down the gauntlet of this hard choice at the doorstep of the APC, and it is proving, indeed, troubling, for them to take it up. A place holder from the North-west has surfaced and this move is making North-eastern APC stalwarts fret. If, indeed, the consideration for a North-eastern running mate for Tinubu is in the offing, why not a North-eastern place holder? Is it another strategy to blind the opposition from predicting where the APC is headed, or was it a sleight of hand?
From time immemorial, the North-east has unduly been treated as a second class group in the Northern Nigeria establishment. This has ensured that the region remains backwards, as its states battle for equality with their counterparts of the North-eastern region. War has ravaged the savannahs of Borno, Yobe and parts of Taraba and Adamawa states. The seeming safe havens of Bauchi and Gombe states and being over-stretched as fleeing population from the afore-mentioned states are putting pressure on them.
Historically, the North-east is the home of the most gallant emirs and shehus in the entire North. Politically, its voting pattern is unanimous in its quest for change and good governance. It provided block votes consistently for President Buhari then APP, ANPP and later day APC.
What is good for the goose is good for the gander. If it's the turn of the South or that of Jagaban, then so it is for the North-east; in as much as it would not cost the APC an electoral victory. Moreso, the PDP has a North-eastern presidential candidate, and it is simple math, to dilute his support base, by fielding a North-eastern running mate for the APC. Our region has a very intimidating stock of politically marketable personalities, with performance legacies in the offices they have held, or are presently holding, which would definitely be pluses to the campaign chest of the APC, in the final analysis.
Voters are keenly waiting for the real holder of Tinubu’s VP candidate slot. North-eastern voters may be tempted to go the PDP way, if in the final analysis, they have nothing to hope for, and look forward to — as 2023 beckons. Our roads are in a terrible mess. From Abuja down through Plateau, to Gombe and eventually Adamawa, is a heart breaking, car wrecking, body torturing journey.
Security is faring better, but our roads and bridges are disintegrating. Our spirits are dampening, and we need a new tonic, that would spell out the delivery of democratic dividends in black and white. The North-east needs adequate attention from the federal government, to recover from the havoc of the insurgency. Who better to implement this, than an active, tested, committed and capable son of the soil?
Tahir is Talban Bauchi