By Dele Sobowale
Governor Fayose’s decision to run for the presidency in 2019 has predictably induced the sort of loud condemnation that should be expected from Nigerians.
Even those who are not card-carrying members of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, have joined the debate. Not surprising, some of Fayose’s strongest adversaries come from the South West, SW, and the North – each for easily understood reasons.
Despite the fact that Fayose is from the SW, his detractors fall into two groups. The first are those who belonged to the defeated Sherrif group of PDP who cannot forgive Fayose for the leading role he played in getting Senator Makarfi to emerge as the authentic National Chairman of the PDP. They are still licking their wounds and waiting for their pound of flesh. The second group consists of those who erroneously believe that the Chairmanship had been zoned to the SW and Fayose’s presidential ambition will adversely affect them since the Presidential candidate and Chairman cannot emerge from the same zone.
The first group of people is simply childish. Those in that group have failed to imbibe the wisdom of one of our founding fathers. Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, asked why he fled Nigeria when the Civil War started in 1967 replied, “He who fights and runs away lives to fight another day.” He might have said “lives to run another day”. In fact, Azikiwe and Ojukwu lived for several years after the war and both lived to ripe old age. There is a message there for Kanu, IPOB leader, if he is still alive. The Sherrif group should surrender; return to PDP and wait for another chance. “Fighting for lost causes is a sure way to destruction.”
The second group is operating under an illusion – the illusion that the chairmanship had been irrevocably zoned to the SW. Recently, Col Akogun (RTD), a chieftain of the PDP from the SW, has broken that illusion by pointing out that the position was zoned to the South in general and not specifically to the SW. Nothing confirms this point more than the fact that a candidate has emerged from the South South, SS, zone. Last week, regular watchers of AIT saw how the SS candidate went from the house of one Northern chieftain of the PDP after another and received warm welcome. None told him that the position was zoned to the SW.
One visit in particular should serve as warning to the illusionists of SW PDP. The SS candidate was accompanied, among others, by a former Minister of Finance under Obasanjo, Mrs Nenadi Usman. Also in attendance to sing the praises of the SS candidate was Mallam Adamu Ciroma, former Finance Minister, CBN Governor, and one of the G-34 who were the founding fathers of the PDP. Adamu Ciroma was one of the authors of the zoning arrangement designed to give every part of Nigeria a sense of belonging. From 1998 till now, Ciroma has seen the zoning arrangement bastardized by his party and history is repeating itself right now. Ciroma praised the candidate, and let me add, deservedly because the SS candidate is head and shoulders above any of those from the SW craving to lead PDP. The party will be doing itself a disservice by ignoring this man. So, Ciroma a practical politician accepted the candidate.
Therefore, where does that leave the SW PDP? Obviously, the zone lacks anyone with the strength and reach of the SS candidate. One of the candidates, despite his closeness to Obasanjo from 1999 to 2007, was not able to win a single election for the PDP in his state. He even lost every election in the polling booth in front of his father’s house. That shows what his own people think of him. By relinquishing the chairmanship ambition to the SS, the SW would become free to seek any other position – including the Presidency.
To those who will insist that the presidency has been zoned to the North, the answer is simple. The North has never been faithful to the zoning arrangement. Let me briefly explain.
First, in 1998-9 when the leading political parties decided to zone the Presidency to the SW, late Alhaji Abubakar Rimi, also a member of G-34, was the first to disagree. He insisted on contesting based on his constitutional rights as a citizen of Nigeria in total disregard for the party’s zoning formula. Granted he was defeated; but he contested and was not called names.
Second, in 2007, when the presidency should have swung to the North, several candidates were contesting from all zones until Obasanjo stepped in and imposed Yar’Adua and Jonathan as President and Vice President respectively. Zoning was jettisoned by ambitious PDP aspirants each of whom gave their own reasons for going against the zoning principle. Invariably, it came down to their constitutional right to contest which was legally superior to the party’s constitution.
Yar’Adua died in office during his first term. Jonathan stepped in as the 1999 Constitution mandated to complete the North’s first of two terms after the SW had enjoyed two terms. Once again, instead of being united behind their constitution and asking Jonathan to finish Yar’Adua’s term, and asking the North to nominate a candidate for the second term, supporters of Jonathan, then an incumbent President as well as those who perceived an opportunity to make money argued that GEJ had a constitutional right to contest the 2011 election. Some of the most vocal were Northerners who supported him in his ambition. People like Ciroma were sidelined while their brothers sold the North’s second term to Jonathan.
If the PDP North was totally united in their demand for the second term in 2011, Jonathan should not have been able to get a Northern running mate. A highly principled politician left the world with a declaration. “I had rather be right than President”, said Henry Clay, 1772-1852. Jonathan’s Vice President from 2010 accepted to be his running mate. Thereafter, all GEJ’s Ministers from the North as well as others on the National Executive Committee, NEC, of the PDP abandoned the North’s claim in favour of constitutional right of aspirants. They cannot now re-introduce it because it favours them.
So, why should Fayose run for the Presidency? To start with, he has a constitutional right to aspire to the position – just as Rimi and Jonathan did in the past. Furthermore, he will not only force a decision on the PDP and the nation, he will do the South a lot of good – starting with curbing the terrorists called Herdsmen.
Next to restructuring, Resource Control and the Economy, the 2019 Elections should serve as a national referendum on the terrorist called Herdsmen. Those who want to put a stop to this national menace must seriously consider the only state Governor with the balls to challenge these criminals whose serial acts of impunity appeared to have been tolerated by the present Federal Government. Millions of Nigerians, North and South, want an end to the murderous activities of herdsmen. And, the only man who has done something about it is Fayose. Irrespective of what you think of him, you cannot take that away from him.
So, why should he not run? He represents something; while others are not bold enough to stand for anything. As the coach of the American baseball team told his team, “You can’t beat something with nothing.”
ADESINA ON WORLD BANK REVELATION – 2
“The ignorant and mischievous people who twist everything for their vile purposes are making it seem that it was a calculated attempt to give the North an unfair advantage over other parts of Nigeria.”
Femi Adesina, Buhari’s Spokesman.
“Ignorant”, “mischievous” and “vile” were the words Mr Femi Adesina, an “errand boy” of the number one Public Servant – Buhari – used on his Oga’s employers who voiced their objections to the World Bank revelation. He will regret it.
Generally, I don’t join issues with “House boys” because I have known since 1969 that “Stewards are not hired for their creativity [or intelligence] but for their loyalty.” (VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS, VBQ, p 233).
Femi might be laboring under the illusion that he occupies that position because of overwhelming intellect but that may not necessarily be the case. The first text of intelligence is to know your limitations. With respect to World Bank operations, Femi is totally wet. At any rate he was not there when Buhari made the suggestion to the World Bank President and in the context in which it was made.
Broadly speaking, funds from the World Bank could come into any country as loans or grants. Loans have to be repaid; grants are free. Grants are made to help nations facing the sort of humanitarian calamities such as we have in the North East or the severe erosions in the South East or desertification in the Sahel. No President is required to make a special plea for the affected areas in his country deserving relief.
The World Bank grants to the NE of Nigeria, mostly embezzled by those close to Nigeria’s most famous Rock, have never been in dispute and could not have been the subject of that discussion because the WB sets its own conditions for intervention. Only loans can be subject to that sort of discussion. In that case all Nigerians have a stake in seeing to it that there is equity in disbursement because we will all repay…..
To be continued….