The South West has now been, rightfully or wrongfully, disaffected by President Muhammadu Buhari and his “Northern Bloc”. The unholy alliance between the North and the South West fostered for the 2015 elections in Nigeria is over. Buhari’s parking ex-Governor Bola Tinubu into the corner is tantamount to parking the entire South West into the corner. Tinubu has been outsmarted in every department by Buhari and some.
Tinubu was so confident [perhaps in his loot and his people] before the 2015 elections he did not hold any official position in his party preferring to be called the “National Leader” of the All Peoples Congress (APC), an informal position. Buhari appears to have capitalised on this oversight strategically. Prof Yemi Osinbajo, the Vice President, has been reduced to no more than PA (personal assistant) to the President. Tinubu should have used “Baby Doc” Bukola Saraki’s strategy of hiring over 1500 prayer warriors for God to grant him his heart desires, no matter his thefts.
How the South West is going to react to Buhari’s “use and dump” strategy of their region will be very interesting and possibly unpleasant. However, one should fear the long-term implications much more the immediate ones. The South West never voted with the North in election success since independence in the First (1963-66), Second (1979-83) and Fourth Republics (1999-present day) but held their own. The Third Republic does not count because it was aborted by wily General Ibrahim Babangida in 1993.
The first attempt at a North – South West electoral alliance in the First Republic evenly divided the South West and led to the notorious “Operation Wet e!” South Westerners resorted to fire-bombing themselves with Molotov Cocktails and contributed to a military take-over in 1966. The second attempt at a North – South West alliance was aborted in the Third Republic in 1993.
The only successful North – South West alliance has been in 2015 in which a motley of disparate political parties united to form the APC which unseated the 16 year old political behemoth, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). To many the APC had one motive: to defeat President Goodluck Jonathan at the polls. To the initiated APC’s motive was to fulfil the personal ambition of Buhari and return power to the North.
Before the 2015 elections, the South West had a fiery enthusiasm to either support APC or unseat PDP. This enthusiasm was created, nurtured and promoted by Bola Ahmed Tinubu who emerge as the “Leader of the Yoruba people” and earned the title “Jagaban”. For all criticism and allegation directed at Tinubu he has proven to be a very competent political organiser; few can match him. Tinubu deserves credit for delivering the 2015 election victory for APC, whether it was honest or not. The South West put Buhari in office as president.
Buhari as observed from afar appears to have done much to castrate Jagaban politically. This is because Buhari has to the public, reneged on all the deals he has made with Tinubu. The legal doctrine of “in pari delicto” necessarily applies. The Buhari–Tinubu partnership for all its election winning prowess was never going to work; they are men incompatible in every sense. The South West might even turn on Tinubu for leading them astray; Buhari would love that.
The South West will now understand what the political pain South East who have voted with North in the First, Second and Fourth Republics have experienced. Supporting the North is hardly ever rewarded. The laws of the political economy of Nigeria are rigged to ensure the interests of the South West, South East and South South will always come second to the interests of the ‘non-monolithic’ North.
Regional rivalries and animosities apart, the North is the hegemonic political force in Nigeria and only the fear of civil war or secession has caused the North to stay out of power for 16 years. The habits of nine-odd decades of hegemony endorsed by Britain die hard.
To be continued.