By Muhammad Sagir Bauchi
As the political atmosphere in the country started to get momentum, top political actors are back on the strategy board to put down action and execution plans for successful campaigns and elections victory. Overnight, some controversial politicians are now running away from their once arrogant and nonchalant attitudes to a born-again one, thereby looking away from whatever may dent their newly ‘customised integrity’. As a result, the usual campaign promises of provision of security, creating job opportunities, fighting against corruption, etc., now appears unsaleable talking points to the electorates as they once were.
News of the inter-party crossover from some prominent politicians like former Speaker Hon. Yakubu Dogara (PDP-APC), Matawalle of Zamfara (PDP-APC), Kwankwaso (PDP-NNPP), etc., are making headlines.
Hon. Yakubu Dogara is one of the major political figures in Bauchi State politics. His role in ousting the previous governor of the state would never be neglected or underestimated. He played a vital role in his constituency and other spheres of the system.
When he decamped from PDP, the party that brought the present administration of Governor Bala Muhammad, several opinions were expressed in respect to that. To some, he joined the ruling party in anticipation of giving him the party leadership (i.e National Chairman of the party). While, to others, he was craving for the seat of Vice-President, in case the party ticket is won by a Southern Muslim. In present Nigeria, a Muslim-Muslim or Christian-Christian ticket at the presidential ticket is a non-starter, as it will polarise the country, create chaos and mistrust.
Of the two opinions surrounding the decamping of Dogara, none could totally be disregarded as they contain some elements of truth. For instance, If APC assigns Bola Ahmed Tinubu as its flag bearer, the party must pick a Northern Christian politician with popularity, high political experienced and wide acceptance among the regional religious, political and traditional leaders/institutions. The aim is to convince the electorates to go out and vote for the party on the election day. Dogara is one of those Northern Christians with broad appeal and political experience. But, can he win the confidence of his Northern block to vote for their ticket?
For that answer, we have to examine the current political doings and his image in his home state, Bauchi, to answer that question.
The present political situation in the state is a bit complicated. We all witnessed how his doings in his constituency influenced the emergence of the current governor of the state during the last gubernatorial elections. Still, events have overtaken the once-political comrades’ romance between him and the governor. His popularity has significantly dropped in 2/3 of the constituency he’s representing. And that could affect his future career in the state and beyond. Therefore, the Dogara factor alone cannot influence Northerners to vote for his party.
Now, away from Dogara to the party at large. Months ago, APC Governor’s Forum paid an unexpected visit to the former President, Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. Of course, we did not know what was discussed during the visit. Still, looking at how the party is desperate to retain the president’s seat, it’ll be hard to disconnect it from what the Hausa people termed as “gaisuwa da ro’kon iri”. So they visited him, likely to ask for his blessing, sympathy and support to use his influence in the South-South to canvass support for their party flag bearer during elections. Or maybe, to lure him into accepting to contest for the presidency on the party ticket.
If we take the party entirely and put it on a scale, we can see that the party is in a dilemma of who to be entrusted with the party ticket to retain the presidential seat. But looking at how the party zoned the national party executives, now it is clear that the flag of the party would come from the South.
Among the top Southern candidates that expressed interest in the presidency are Vice President Yemi Osibanjo and the party leader, Bola Tinubu. One of these two have every chance to win the party primaries. But, who among them can be an easy sale to all the regions of the country? Would the old rivalry between Igbos and Yorubas resurrect and allow Igbos to support anyone of them? Only time would tell.
But in the North, despite the significant drop in trust and popularity of President Muhammadu Buhari, there still exist those supporters that will go for whoever PMB anointed to succeed him at the polls. But many will be in a dilemma of choosing between one of their own, an outsider or may even decide not to vote.
After the country’s return to Democratic rule, PMB was among those with a desperate ambition to rule the country again. He contested three times but lost at general elections. Fortunately for him, he won at his fourth outing. Unfortunately, during his failed bids, his body language was that he only relied on the votes of his fellow Northerners.
By 2010, Buhari realised that that illusion wouldn’t give him the presidency. So, he aligned/merges his one-man party, CPC, with an umbrella forum of some rebellious and highly influential mainstream politicians from the ruling party, nPDP, ANPP and the Southwest’s AC to form the APC. This conglomeration of parties (merger) is what solely got him the presidency.
With all honesty, looking back at the significant contribution of the Southwest politicians, this is the right time for him to pay back those that helped him actualise his presidential ambition with the party ticket on a platter of gold, especially to a Southwestern candidate.
There’s not much tension within the PDP due to their discipline and expertise in handling intra-party conflict. However, the party must be careful with an emerging conflict from Wazirin Adamawa and governors’ overzealous ambitions. In addition, they must learn from their 2015 avoidable mistake that cost them the elections and government.
Sagir Ibrahim is a graduate of Economics from the Department of Economics, Bauchi State University Gadau. He can be reached via email@example.com.