By Austin Bonny
THEY did everything possible to correct that mistake and eventually took the power back. Whether the insurgency in the North East is a direct fallout of how bad they wanted it is an issue for another discussion.
In 2019 however, the deciding factor of where the north would go now goes beyond tribalism and religious sentiments. Like other regions, the north too has also seen the hand of the incumbent and his party and also have a basis to compare with previous administrations. With the shenanigans of party squabbles and defections out of the way, it is now obvious that the unity of purpose that saw the likes of Kwankwanso and Atiku, political heavyweights in their own grounds, to queue behind PMB in 2015 is no longer there. Now, it is a question of where the loyalty of the northern electorate will go between PMB and the eventual arrowhead that will be produced by the new northern alliance. Such loyalty will be based on ethnic affiliations and performance review of the present administration in relation to the past. It is a broken North.
The West – performance, religion and Resource Control
Even though Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GEJ, got the South-South, the South-East and bits of the North last timeout, a resounding “No” from the West in 2015 meant he had to share votes in areas which offered him a stronghold in 2011. With the Jagaban and Buhari getting in bed, 2015 was a different ball game and GEJ lost. The deeper implication of this is that the West always hold the ace. While the pointers of which direction they would go come 2019 are not as clear as in 2015, the performance factor will play a big role.
The historical precedent is that the West have always seemed to get along better with the North. On the one hand, what drives such affinity is the issue of distrust for the Eastern agenda which dates back to Awolowo. And then there’s the binding cord of the country, crude oil, over 70% of which is in the South-South and over which there seems to be a “Wazo” consensus that the control of this resource should not be presided over by someone from that region. And then of course, there’s the issue of religious affiliations – the bonds of the shared Islamic faith seems to be stronger than those of the common challenges faced by every Nigerian irrespective of the part of the country they come from.
As things stand, the west is still largely undecided. Even though the Jagaban, the galvanizing force of western politics, has pledged his loyalty to the incumbent, the fact that things are falling apart within their party tells a different story of how such a pledge could be part of a subtle game plan. Whatever happens between him and the incumbent, it is clear that the strength of the coalition that brought the APC into power is no longer there, leaving the PDP as the force to reckon with. But it is not yet uhuru for our great party – precepts and lines must fall into places.
Implications and imperatives for our People, the East
Against the background of the foregoing, what must the PDP do to regain lost grounds? What must our own Eastern people do to ensure that the bitter experience of marginalisation and ethnic indignity meted out to us in the past three years do not continue into the future? The answer to these two overriding questions is simple: align with the ace holders.
The imperatives of such alignment cannot be tampered by age-long acrimony over a civil war that’s left more scars than stars in the eastern skies. Moving forward therefore, we must adopt the no permanent enemy stance and strike strategic alliances with the West. As Lord Baelish rightly noted in the epic series Game of Thrones, “everyone is an enemy and everyone is a friend”. The objective is to know what works for our common goal of “Never Again” to the incumbent and the unbearable Fulani agenda.
Internal democracy is key
Our party cannot afford to make the mistakes of the past again because there’s renewed interest in our internal democracy practice by the electorate now and the whole world is watching. We must allow the will of the people to reign supreme in the choice of candidates we put forward and the credibility of such candidates should never be a matter of debate. As a result of what is at stake, party bigwigs must sacrifice their personal gains for the greater good. We cannot have the rancor that undid us in the past and which has characterised the now ruling party to be in the way we conduct our affairs – to beat them we must do better than them.
In the final analysis, victory is the only one inevitable conclusion for the PDP and our people as we move closer to renegotiating who serves our great nation as president through the ballot box in 2019. However, this will only possible if we read the body language of the other regions well and make the right alliances, because in the end, politics is a game of numbers and alignments. With the return of the prodigals and the bridge-building efforts of our national executive, I see us taking it back. It can be done.