By Nze Nwabueze Akabogu (JP)
As the political activities geared towards the 2019 general election appear to be gathering momentum and currently at fever pitch, political parties and their gladiators are already perfecting their strategies aimed at capturing power both at the national and state levels. The ruling APC party is currently basking in the euphoria of their recent electoral successes in the gubernatorial elections which were held in Edo, Ondo, and their stunning win in Ekiti State where the party dramatically snatched victory from the ruling PDP in what was considered a great electoral upset. The party also recorded similar feats in the recently concluded senatorial by-elections in Bauchi, Katsina and Kogi States.
However, the APC seem not to leave anything to chance inspite of these electoral successes as it is now battle ready for the 2019 elections commonly tagged “the greatest battle of the century”.
On the other hand, the opposition coalition party led by the PDP is already sharpening up its political weaponry aimed at dislodging the ruling APC from the Federal Government led by President Buahari come February 2019.
The electioneering Campaigns in Nigeria had always been characterized by intrigues, blackmails, horse trading and empty promises by these conscienceless political actors who often hoodwink the poor and hapless voters to give them their mandate.
The APC captured power in 2015 on the mantra of change from the so-called corrupt and inept PDP Federal Government led by Former President Goodluck Jonathan. Three and half years after, the Nigerian masses are now in a strong position to judge whether they are better off with the present Federal Government led by the “incorruptible” President Buhari otherwise known as “Mr. clean”. Indeed, Nigerians are better judges for themselves and as such do not need any soothsayer to guide them as they prepare once again to take their destiny into their own hands. There is the common adage that says quote “a woman who had married two different husbands in her life time is certainly in a position to know who is the better husband between the two” end of quote.
It is needless to emphasize the point that the poverty level in the Country today had risen to such astronomical and intolerable proportion as was recently reported by the United Nations (UN) The U.N poverty index recently indicated that Nigeria had overtaken India as the poorest nation in the world.
It is regrettable to observe however, that the prevailing level of general insecurity in the country is rather alarming with the attendant consequences of loss of hundreds of human lives almost on daily basis as a result of the criminal activities by the notorious Boko Haram terrorist groups and more recently the deadly Fulani terrorists masquerading as herdsmen.
The Nigerian masses will soon be presented with two hard choices between continuing with the present inept and visionless APC Federal Government or vote into power another political party in the forthcoming general elections. It seems however that the only viable option open to the Nigerian masses in their present predicament is to elect the coalition party led by the supposedly reformed PDP which presumably had learnt its bitter lessons after its electoral debacle in 2015. The current political tsunami sweeping across the political spectrum through massive defections by the so-called political heavy weight appears to have given the rejuvenated PDP political leverage and also repositioned her for a stiff and memorable contest with the APC in the forthcoming polls. Should the greatly reformed PDP put its acts together and forge a common front by organizing free, fair, credible and transparent primaries at all levels especially at the national convention of the party where its Presidential candidate will emerge, then the pendulum of huge electoral success will surely swing in favour of the party during the elections.
However, the PDP at the moment has a herculean task of managing the crowed of eminently qualified presidential aspirant which number at the last count had risen to about fourteen presidential hopefuls and each of them nursing the ambition to clinch the party's ticket.
The present zoning arrangement of the PDP appears to favour the North and which accounted for most of the presidential aspirants coming form that zone. Political expediency however demands that the party's flag bearer should come from the North in view of the fact that a strong and popular candidate from that zone is needed to match and possibly defeat the incumbent President Buhari who himself is also from the North. It is most likely therefore that the PDP will beam its searchlight for her presidential candidate within the North West zone consisting of seven states and with the highest voter turnout which is obviously a deciding factor in any presidential election in the country. The incumbent President Buhari is also from the zone which will certainly make the contest highly competitive as both the APC and PDP are expected to share the massive votes from that zone in the presidential election.
The zoning arrangement within the PDP however appears to place the South East geo-political zone at a serious disadvantage in the current power equation in the country as the PDP was reportedly considering zoning the office of the Vice President or running mate to the Presidential candidate to the South West geo-political zone ostensibly to counter the enormous influence and popularity of the incumbent Vice President Yemi Osinbajo who is also from the zone. This is certainly a political master stroke on the part of the PDP if one should recall that it was the South West region that indeed gave President Buhari the ultimate victory in the 2015 elections.
Suffice to say however, that the South Easteners would forcefully argue that the Vice Presidential slot should be ceded to them in order to balance the political equation and also serve as a reward for their steadfast and massive support to the PDP over the years.
Nevertheless, in political parlance it is often said that politics is a game of numbers and this statement of fact obviously favours the South West who had the fortune of always playing the unique role of deciding a winner in any Presidential election which they perfectly executed in favour of President Buhari during the 2015 presidential election. Again, it would amount to sheer foolhardiness and political suicide for any party to ignore the obvious fact that since Vice President Osinbajo comes from the South West zone, it is most likely that the people of that zone would vote en-mass for Osinbajo's party the APC rather than vote for any other party that denied them the Vice Presidential slot.
The possible scenario whereby the PDP eventually zones the Vice Presidential ticket to the South West will invariably give the party a huge electoral advantage and leverage which will definitely translate into tremendous electoral success in the election. In other words, the voters within the zone will be presented with two choices thereby placing them in rather difficult situation that could eventually result in the splitting of votes between the APC and PDP Presidential candidates.
The ultimate losers in the political permutation and power game are obviously the people of the South East zone whose plight in the current political dispensation in the country has always been that of criminal marginalization, gross injustice and unwarranted repression in their own country.
In the light of the current political realities on the ground, the leaders of the South East region are now left with no other option than to negotiate and extract some firm commitments on certain Federal Government positions with the PDP leadership in exchange for the people's votes from the South East zone in the Presidential election.
Some of the key Federal Government appointments that must be zoned to the South East in the envisaged PDP Federal Government are as follows:
(a) Secretary to the Federal government (SGF)
(b) The Senate President
© National Chief Security Adviser to the President
(d) Chief of Staff or Head of the Army, Air Force, Navy or the Police Force.
(e) Key Ministerial positions as well as other political offices in accordance with the principle of the Federal character.
In addition, there must be a firm commitment and undertaking that whosoever is elected as the President from the North on the platform of the PDP will serve for only one term so as to complete the second term of the incumbent President Buhari should the PDP candidate win the Presidential election.
This commitment is obviously very critical in the sense that it will pave the way for a potential Presidential candidate from the South East zone to emerge as the Nigerian President by 2023 as already envisaged in order to put to final rest the lingering issues of marginalization and injustices which will also enable Ndigbo to have a sense of belonging in the affairs of the nation.
It is instructive to mention in this piece however, that a Chieftain of the ruling APC and Minister of Labour and Employment Chris Ngige was recently reported to have urged Ndigbo of the South East region to vote massively for President Buhari in the forthcoming election so as to be guaranteed the 2023 Presidential ticket even as the Yorubas of the South West region are already plotting to clinch the 2023 Presidential ticket based on their massive and unalloyed support for President Buhari. There is a high level of political consciousness and maturity among the Yorubas of the South West region which had placed them high and above their Igbo counterparts of the South East region.
Chris Ngige's rather unguarded utterances were indeed a huge insult on the collective intelligence of Ndigbo in the sense that their Presidential quest would depend entirely on their electoral votes to President Buhari in the forthcoming election despite President Buhari's widely acknowledged abysmal failure to deliver on his campaign promises and coupled with his inept leadership qualities.
The leadership of Ohaneze Ndigbo had earlier made it abundantly clear to the whole world that Ndigbo are not desperate for the Nigerian Presidency but rather called for the urgent restructuring of the Nigerian State as the only sine quo non for the peaceful co-existence of all the diverse ethnic nationalities that make up the entity called Nigeria. This is indeed the position of Ndigbo as a people in the face of the prevailing extremely dangerous and unpredictable situation in the country.
Nze Nwabueze Akabogu (JP) is a Regular Public Affairs Commentator and Analyst. He wrote from Enugwu-Ukwu, Anambra State.