2023: Nigeria’s Year of Political Conspiracy

Sanusi Muhammad

Sanusi Muhammad

From this moment to the early part of next year, the polity will be charged by serious and masquerading politicians in aspiration for elective positions and their supporters. Deceitful games and unquantifiable lies will occupy the centre stage of the campaigns. Those seeking tenure renewal, will rely on the strength of their stewardship while the corrupt and those suffering from credibility crisis will play money and dirty politics to perfect their mischievous plans.

Suffice it to when former president Obasanjo completed his two constitutionally terms in 2007 there was no controversy as which of the regions was to produce the next presidential candidate on the platform of then ruling party, PDP. There were internal permutations but it all settled down for the late Umaru Musa Yar Adu’a from the Northwestern geo-political zone in deference to unwritten but commonsensical agreement to sustain national cohesion and unity. If former president Goodluck Jonathan, from the South-south was lucky enough to have enjoyed two terms, there would also have been no controversy regarding where to pick his successor from.

President Muhammadu Buhari is to complete his two terms in 2023, but already, there is a hidden controversy brewing over which of the regions should produce his successor within the ruling party, APC. Zoning, some shylock and senseless politicians have begun to argue, is no longer useful and adequate tool for elections. How they hope to sustain that argument and push it with force or logic is hard to fathom, especially in the face of the audacity of ongoing criminal acts and the parochialism of the Buhari presidency, two issues that made the southern axis of the country chafe.

Some politicians from the northern axis surrounding the president seem to be preparing to throw their hats into the ring if not for anything tangible, at least to spoil the game. The President with all honesty pretended not to know the game of those his aides. He remained ghoulishly silent at the beginning until he realized the danger ahead. The APC hurriedly zoned the presidency to the Southwest and other key positions.

However, no matter how hard the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) and the strongest opposition PDP try, President Buhari cannot and will not be succeeded by a northerner when the time comes. The two leading parties are baiting each other on their intraparty zoning arrangements, which are expected to reflect how their minds work on 2023 presidential zoning permutations. However, their fancy footwork will end in disarray in the coming months as the reality of the existential troubles facing Nigeria manifest in bold relief.

The crisis which Nigeria’s political elite will contend with in the years ahead, assuming their incompetence, bigotry, and ethnic exceptionalism do not make it impossible for them to pull off a miracle in 2023, is how to mitigate the overwhelming damage done to the body politic by the insularity of the Buhari presidency. A southerner may emerge the president if the election hold, but he will be hobbled by the dangerous and explosive precedents set by President Buhari in eight years as he made the core Northern states seems to be a super race from the perception of most southerners.

Disentangling the country from the convoluted policies of tribe, religion and regionalism will risk the ingenuity and resilience of the next president to no end. How successful he will be will depend on his national and international networks, ability to forge compromises and consensuses, and intuition and charisma.

But already, the narrative has been distorted by many analysts who set naïve criteria for the next president. They have pictured the ideal candidate, and somehow, also, pictured the simplistic arithmetic and mechanics by which he will get magically elected into office. The reality is, however, much different. When the country teeters finally on the brink, the elite, now recklessly accustomed to pulling back in the nick of time and saving the day, may yet be able to pull the country’s chestnuts out of fire one more time. This time, it will not be the disingenuous doctrine of necessity; it will be just plain commonsensical avoidance of the inevitable cataclysm. Their shortsighted policies and incompetent and hypocritical members have overtime pushed the responsibility of pulling it back, even if they have to make the most galling concessions as well as abandon their schizoid ethnic fantasies.

Comrade Shehu Sani of the 8th Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, warned Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who is widely believed to be gunning for the 2023 presidency on APC platform, to beware of the hypocrites of northern region. In an earlier tweet, he had suggested to Tinubu to secure the services of a Hausa language translator because the richly idiomatic Hausa may be telling him something different in the language contrary to what he thinks they are telling him in English during visits or campaign. The former senator further expounded the thesis when he said: “Well, the person of Asiwaju is the one I know in the field of struggle…..He should try to know the actual feeling on the ground as far as North is concerned because I know what MKO Abiola went through. Abiola served the North more than any other businessman from the western part of Nigeria. He printed the Holy Qur’an and distributed same to several Muslim communities. He donated homes to the homeless northerners and empowered people; he supported academics and religious leaders. Abiola was one of those passionate about the unity of Nigeria because of the solidarity between the Southwest and the Northern part of Nigeria. But how did he end up? They (northerners) conspired against him and sabotaged him and at the end of the day…..”

But if the northern politician is a conspirator as alleged through the monolithic North ceased to exist a long time ago—the Southwest politician is probably even more treacherous, often blinded by ambition and loves to exhibit any loyalty to their leaders and mentors on the grounds that their proud history forbids them from groveling before anyone, saint or sinner. If Tinubu has decided to contest the presidency regardless of the dynamics of his party and the pussyfooting of the presidency, he will have to contend with the egregious machinations of his mentees who disdain his paternalism. Tinubu will not only need a Hausa translator as Shehu Sani suggested ruefully, he will also need an enigmatic code breaker to determine who in the Southwest to be trusted, given the fact that the loudest, earliest and bitterest voices against his presidential ambition are coming from his region of origin. It is in the nature of the Yoruba to loudly destroy their own contenders, unmindful that such a seemingly noble and innocuous exercise contrastingly promotes more unqualified and probably more vicious and irredentist contenders from other regions. But they are hardly bothered by such contradictions.

The whole political atmosphere may be hazy, and getting increasingly hazier by the day; but one thing is glaringly clear and un-debatable to even doubting minds: there will be power shift to the other regions in 2023. The cost of keeping power domiciled in the North will be too expensive for anyone or group to bear, let alone for fragile Nigeria not to buckle under. And regardless of how the APC and PDP bait each other with 2023 in view, and notwithstanding the huffing and puffing of certain northern ambitious politicians, they will come to the ineluctable conclusion that forbidding power shift is a price they cannot settle, and a tactics they cannot hope to sustain.

So far, the APC has Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Yemi Osinbajo and John Kayode Fayemi from the Southwest aspiring to be presidents. The PDP that kicked away zoning the presidential slot has Atiku Abubakar, Bala Muhammed, Nyeson Wike, Bukola Saraki, Fayose and Aminu Waziri Tambuwal for the presidential slot. If the PDP plays its cards well, either Bala Muhammed or Atiku Abubakar may emerge its flag bearer for the contest and it may be a fierce battle between the North and the Southwest which may refresh memories of 1993.

Lest I forget, even for the National Assembly elections, there should be power shift within the state and federal constituencies and the senatorial districts as is applicable with the gubernatorial zoning. Those who have served over two terms in the State/National Assemblies should be pushed away from 2023 contest because of loss of credibility, direction, robust debates and sponsorship of Bills. Let the Ahmed Lawals and the Gbajabiamilas of the National Assembly be disconnected from further circulation within the National Assembly if the system is to grow because they have outlived their usefulness in the red and Green Chambers.

Nigeria in 2023 needs to have the intelligent ones, determined and focused national legislators, not quasi contractors and rubber stamps of the executive arm that take pride in periodic visits to the Villa and in group photos with Mr. President for political deceit and ego-boasting that means nothing but a mere foolery of self while their people are suffering and smiling in the hinterlands.

Muhammad is a commentator on national issues

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