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MARCH OF THE “PROGRESSIVES” IN THE S/WEST How ACN plans to sustain grip

By Jide Ajani, Editor, Northern Operations

They predicted that it was a midnight that would soon pass away.  It has.  The Peoples Democratic Party’s, PDP’s, capturing of the South West political zone that is.

When the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, started making incursions into, and claiming political offices in the zone, the party was accused of stealing political victories through the judiciary.

Today, all that appears different.
A Daniel has actually come to judgment.

Therefore, when last year Governor Gbenga Daniel of Ogun State declared that the PDP had become endangered specie in the South West geo-political zone, some leaders in the zone appreciated the bluntness of the statement but did not wish it to pass.  It has.  Daniel’s concern then was about the way the courts were awarding hitherto electoral victories to the ACN.

In fact, Daniel categorically said:  “The capacity of our party to manage crisis is nil.

“We are all endangered species. But we will not”, Daniel charged, “concede one inch of space to the rampaging Bola Tinubu machinery. What happened in Ekiti State is a big shame to all of us without exception. What we have in our hand is a major challenge”. Daniel then went ahead to reel out a litany: “In Osun, what I am hearing is scary. If that kind of thing happens, it will be a disaster”. It was.  AC N took over the governorship.

How did it all start?   Well, the Alliance for Democracy, AD, an offshoot of the Second Republic Unity Party of Nigeria, UPN, which itself succeeded the Action Group of the First Republic, clinched all the elective offices in February 1999 elections.  Olusegun Obasanjo, who won the presidential election on the platform of the PDP vowed to capture the South West states.

He did in 2003; but Lagos, governed by Tinubu, was too strong to be captured.  Before the 2007 election, Tinubu had to recreate a movement, doing away in the process with leaders of Afenifere, the pan-Yoruba socio-political and economic body and the AD which they founded, setting up Action Congress, AC, which is now AC N, mobilized heavily, retained Lagos for his party but went to court to challenge PDP’s victories in the other states.  AC N won back Edo, Osun and Ekiti States.

But beyond all the judicial victories of the AC N came the new reality of what the people of the South West now want: A return to the philosophy of Pa Obafemi Awolowo, the Yoruba sage, who enunciated and put to practice the politics of development of the region.

Today, it is Ashiwaju Ahmed Tinubu who has become the rallying point for the movement which would have been subsumed had the politics been wrong.  And that is where the strategy starts from.

Although after a few false starts, making attempts to form a coalition of a broad political alliance with some political bloc in the North which almost always failed, the Tinubu movement may have now come to terms with the need to first restore hope and confidence that the South west can again become the Western Region of the First republic where pace setting per development was the norm.

Sweeping the national assembly elections in the region, Tinubu’s AC N during the week had another opportunity to launch into full scale national arena with an alliance involving the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, led by former head of state, General Muhammadu Buhari. But the party dumped the option.

Fresh facts emerging suggest that the key reason why the option of going along with alliance failed was because after weighing the options open to it, the party decided that it would do well to sustain its hold on the South West and then re-launch at the 2015 polls.

The reasoning in the party is that it would serve its interest more to make the South West a fortress of sorts for other zones to copy, while simultaneously selling the ideals of good governance, not just through the party’s manifesto but through concrete symbols of developmental governance.

Already, Lagos and Edo States are clear examples of what a political party can do to a people. Osun and Ekiti States, which came late to the party has also rekindled hope that where there is will, there is always a way.
One of the AC N governors who spoke to Weekend Vanguard in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja, during the week on the failed alliance talks gave an insight into the thinking in the party.

“The prospect for the alliance as contextualized by the media was a lie from the pit of hell”, he charged.
According to the state governor, “the conditions for an alliance are very simple and straight forward under any circumstance.  It is about weighing the possibilities in any prospect and building on it.  That is the real essence of an alliance in the first place.

“With what the AC N has been able to prove and demonstrate in the South West geo-political zone and in some other parts of the country, the essential purpose, which is to provide good governance for our people, can not only be achieved through the office of the President and Commander-in-Chief as it has been manifest in the past 12 years. Therefore, for us in the AC N the need to clinch the office of the President is not a do-or-die affair!

“In addition, when you place the successes recorded at the polls held last Saturday side by side, you discover that brand AC N’s prospects are brighter and better.

“Be that as it may, this idea of having to wait endlessly all in the name of an alliance simply became frustrating”, the governor concluded.

Asked what the next phase of discussions would be yesterday morning, the state governor simply responded:  “I have better things to attend to and, therefore, I am on my way out of Abuja”.

He nonetheless pointed out that the time for mobilization of supporters for an alliance “was just not available.  That is our position.  The time is not feasible and the time is not there”.

Yet, the full import of what is going on in the South West is that with the zones block votes, a PDP presidential candidate would either have to negotiate with the emerging political leader, Tinubu, or risk the consequences of being over-confident and losing.  And that was why the CPC made the last ditch attempt to forge the alliance.


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