As the presidential primaries draw closer, there have been alleged plots of some leaders of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, to cede their 2023 presidential tickets to the North. With over 35 aspirants openly declaring their interest as of today, a few still in the closet and more coming out, the field has never looked this crowded.
After zoning the national chairmanship slot to the North, with Northerners emerging as national chairman of the APC, the ruling party has been foot-dragging on zoning the presidency to the South. APC National Chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, hinted last week that the party has not taken a decision on zoning and did not disclose when the party would do so. The Chairman said, “I am today privileged to be the Chairman of the party. The party is greater than me. The party has not made a decision and I cannot pre-empt what the party’s decision will be.”
While the APC seemed to have the urge to heed the agreed zoning system, political analysts insist that the leadership of the party is not ready to hand over to the south for so many reasons; losing the block vote of the north is one of them. While the leadership of the APC is watching closely the antics of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, the cabal are equally interested in consolidating themselves in power and keeping the presidency in the north.
Against the unwritten agreement on zoning, the leadership of the APC, as controlled by President Buhari are wary of the bloc votes and the mentality of the northern voters, who, of course, decide the outcome of every presidential election. These voters do not consider party affiliations or persona loyalty, but will only vote along ethnic and religious lines. Now that President Buhari can no longer have his name on the ballot paper, the choice of the next candidate will determine the fate of the party.
There are also high indications that President Buhari himself is a party to this scheme to retain power in the North. What is obvious is that the Northern political oligarchy is not restricted by party affiliations in their bid to retain power; which means that if they cannot get what they want in APC they will swing to PDP in order to get it. A clearer instance is the recent secretive consultations between Buhari and Northwest Governor, a declared presidential candidate of the opposition party, PDP.
As of today, there are two northern politicians who have reportedly placed one leg in the ring – Governor of Yobe State and former All Progressives Congress, APC, interim Chairman, Mai Mala Buni; Kebbi State Governor Abubakar Atiku Bagudu.
Shockingly, Gov. Buni who is now interested in the Presidency once led a delegation to Jonathan to explore the possibility of the former president running with the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, as his running mate.
This consideration is based on the potential four-year one-term limit of another Jonathan presidency. But the trap is that post-election litigation over the 2017 constitutional amendment on “swearing-in”, could disqualify Jonathan and hand the position over to his running mate if he wins.
Then the cabal also penetrated into the southern political fraternity and planted a seed of discord within them. Thus, VP Osinbajo, Senator Ibikule Amosun, and Governor Kayode Fayemi are all battling Asiwaju for the presidential ticket. Out of about 35 aspirants contesting on this level, about 30 of them are from the South.
This is why some analysts are of the opinion that President Buhari had deliberately given room for more people from the south to join the race so as to destabilize the region and eventually pull out a joker; bring up a candidate from the north that will scoop from the spoils of the southern conflicts. What is also worthy of note is the fact that the northern candidates are coming into the race after weighing the calibre of those who have signified their interests in the South.
Historically, presidential candidates favour late comers, sometimes, unexpected and even unprepared entrants. For some reason, the system appears to abhor preparation and readiness.
From Shehu Shagari to Obasanjo and from Umaru Yar’Adua to Jonathan, accidental candidates have had an edge, making you wonder if there’s something about the office that cannot coexist with preparation. Even Buhari, who cried a river after three failed attempts, only got elected at his fourth, when he was thought to have given up. This is why some political pundits believed the latecomers may cash out in the race after studying the direction that the APC has decided to go.
It will therefore be safe to state that President Buhari, despite saying otherwise, is keenly interested in who takes the mantle of leadership from him, and his choice of candidate is not from the South. However, he would want to preserve Goodluck Jonathan’s record of a free and fair election. All negotiations and permutations, therefore, will start and end at the primaries.