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President Muhammadu Buhari made one of the most profound political statements of his second term last Tuesday when he alluded to a pre-merger pact among leaders of the legacy parties that formed the All Progressives Congress, APC.
His allusion during the extra-ordinary National Executive Committee, NEC meeting of the party did not directly spell out the agreement.
It was, however, generally believed to insinuate an agreement on power rotation between the North and South.
Remarkably, the president like a gentleman officer, said that the agreement should be honoured.
His claim has immediately quashed further anxiety for now on the direction of the APC as concerning 2023. That is for now.
President Buhari’s assertion followed recent assertions on the issue by stakeholders who were facilitators of the merger.
Babatunde Fashola, who ordinarily does not talk much on political issues despite his remarkable political survival streak in Lagos over the years unusually came out only recently to assert that the power shift agreement must be respected.
Insinuations were that he was prodded to speak on the issue from respected quarters.
The seeming decision of the APC to shift power to the South may have also put the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in a quandary. The PDP to all intents and purposes had in the past been envisaged to have informally zoned its 2023 ticket to the North.
The belief among many party, chieftains has been that only a Northerner can mobilise the kind of votes that can challenge the APC in the polls.
It is for this reason that the PDP earlier this week asserted that it had not made up its mind on zoning the 2023 ticket.
It was this crack that someone like Dave Umahi saw to exercise his long dream of dining with Buhari.
It is easy for some to believe that because the two principal facilitators of the 2013 merger in the APC were Buhari and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu that the former Lagos State governor should as a matter of right be the candidate of the party in 2023.
However, the tone of the last NEC did not betray such an emotion. If anything, it seemed to have been to the contrary.
Gist from the meeting suggested that loyalists of the national leader despite their rehearsal to project his interests were shut down by the president.
As an aside, it is one of the greatest irony of contemporary politics that the NEC of the APC would meet and Asiwaju Tinubu would not be a participant!
How it emerged that the constitution of the APC could have been written without carving a role for Tinubu is astounding.
It would seem that President Buhari like President Olusegun Obasanjo seems to have now formed a partnership with the APC governors many of whom are now distancing themselves from the respected National Leader of the party.
The majority of the governors just as in 2007 seem to be actively now working towards ensuring that one of them becomes Buhari’s successor.
They may have also boxed Buhari into a corner where he has to choose between them and his 2014 alleged financiers like Rotimi Amaechi and Babatunde Fashola who the president has retained in his cabinet despite the hostility of their local political enemies.
Now, if the APC has formally zoned its 2023 ticket to the governors, there are insinuations that the PDP may also be tilting towards zoning its ticket to Atiku Abubakar!
Anyone who heard Governor Nyesom Wike speak on television yesterday would insinuate such, reflecting a discord between the two former political collaborators.
It is in Prince Uche Secondus personal interest to zone the ticket to the North as that would keep him in office as national chairman.
But those who believe that the party should not remain second with Secondus as chairman are now challenging him.
However, it was also enlightening that earlier this week, that onetime enfant terrible of the political class, Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim entered the fray with his strong argument against zoning.
Olawepo-Hashim in his argument observed that the narrative of zoning is counter-productive to national development observing that no country makes progress by zoning its highest political office by way of religion or tribe.
One country that operated a semi-official rotation of the presidency was Yugoslavia especially following the death of Josip Tito.
Today that country is no more.
Another country near Nigeria that has moved to abolish divisions based on tribe and other inclinations is Rwanda. Today that country is the apple of Africa.
While Mr Olawepo-Hashim’s argument for the abolition of power rotation may seem farfetched by Southerners, no one doubts that it is a feeling that has been brought by the aggressive margnialisation of a large section of the country by the present administration.
So, while it is now easy to believe that the APC at present is thinking power shift towards the South, many are also wondering how feasible it would be.
For a government that has not trusted a section of the country with lower levers of power, how the same men would hand over maximum power to the long margianalised section may be an illusion. Maybe this is Fulani Roulette!
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