Different forces within and outside the All Progressives Congress (APC) are closing ranks to oust a man whom they tagged a common adversary in the South-West ahead of the 2023 Presidential race; Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
The 69-year-old statesman has remained at the forefront of Nigeria’s political process without necessarily holding any political office. Unknown to many who felt Asiwaju only has the grip of Lagos State, the Jagaban himself, not only decides what happens politically in the southwest but also remains a force to consider in any political permutation in any of the geopolitical zone and parties.
His role in the emergence of the serving President, Muhammadu Buhari, on the two occasions, when he won his most players in Nigeria after 4 attempts is a pointer that Asiwaju understands the game better than most players in Nigeria. There are also perceptions that his alliance with the north to ensure that Buhari, who has faced media persecution in the last eight years, is a way to secure his presidential bid ahead in 2023. This has caused divisions among groups and factions in the southwest and the north.
Although Asiwaju has not officially declared that he is running for presidency come 2023, there are loud indications from various camps that he is the next in line from the South.
It is believed that the members of the northern cabal who intend to consolidate themselves in power are already conniving with some southerners shunning Asiwaju and putting forward another southerner, probably younger and easy to manipulate so as to secure political control beyond 2023.
Just as the O to ge gingle was used to dethrone Saraki in Kwara, some groups are said to be plotting a similar slogan to muscle Asiwaju out of power. It is however pertinent to note that if the salient effect of Asiwaju is not in the forefront to defend the political strength and might of the south, it will be to the detriment of the south as a whole. No sooner the former Senate President was ousted by the Oto ge group that things quickly fell apart and the centre could no longer hold.
For six months after the election, the new Governor, Mr AbdulRazaq ran the affairs of the state without a cabinet. He was criticised by the same people who fought to bring him in, but he was not perturbed. However, when he named his cabinet members, he was openly criticised by members of the party including the suspended party chairman, Bashir Bolarinwa, for not consulting the party.
The other three pivotal groups have since then withdrawn their support for the Governor, as words began to go round that the members of O to ge group were already regretting their popular move to remove Bukola Saraki. Kwara government reportedly became a one-man-show, Kwara State lost its relevance at the centre and was relegated to the background both on the green and red chamber, because State had no powerful representation. Political watchers believe that the crisis in the party, if not resolved by the national body of the APC, may escalate further and spell doom for the party in forthcoming polls in the state. A similar consequence befell Benue State after David Mark, who served as President of the Senate for two terms was pulled back by the centrifugal force that ushered Abba Moro. The question of a better alternative comes to play when the thought of Asiwaju leaving the political space is raised.
For a man who wields so much influence, his foot soldiers are spread everywhere, traversing the north to the south, east to west; ranging from governors, legislators, public servants, technocrats and captains of industries. Suffice to say that the generalissimo spreads his political tentacles across the landscape of Africa and beyond. Having ensured that the opposition party steers clear from taking over the reins of power in Lagos, for over two decades, he has successfully institutionalised viable democrats as successive governors without any interference in their administrations, making him that godfather that can only be envied.
It could only take a man rich in wit and wisdom to champion the course of merging fragments of opposition parties to form a mega party today called the All Progressives Congress (APC), thereby producing a Buhari-led administration at the centre; halting the 16-year rule of the PDP in a rather epoch-making electioneering process.
Who then can wear his shoes, in the southwest should he decide to step aside?
Although the Nigerian political system is meant to work in a way that the presidency rotates between southerners and northerners in power – implying that Buhari, the northerner should be succeeded by a southerner – the question of whether the APC’s next candidate will be a northerner or southerner looks far from being resolved.
It is not certain if Buhari wants to play a lead role in determining his successor, as Obasanjo did in 2007, but whoever will come from the south other than Asiwaju will not only be a willing tool in the hands of the cabal, but also a nemesis that the southwest would have to deal with for many years to come.