By GODSON O. MONEKE
THE Special Conventions and presidential primaries of the two main political parties in Nigeria have come and gone. As expected, the front runners emerged victorious despite efforts by some anti- democratic forces to in influence different outcomes.
I particularly congratulate Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu for winning the presidential ticket of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, despite the wishes of some members of the establishments and against all odds. This hard-fought victory has confirmed beyond all doubts that Tinubu is a rugged politician and a dogged fighter.
He knows what he wants and works to achieve it, thus marking him out as a visionary politician who is always prepared for the job he seeks. In similar vein, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar emerged the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, presidential candidate against all odds.
Atiku has shown interest in becoming the president of Nigeria since the old Social Democratic Party, SDP, days in 1992. It was not until 1999 when he became the Vice President of Nigeria did he come within earshot of that position. He has sustained that political interest since then despite several attempts to blow him off course. Ironically, both Atiku and Tinubu belonged to the old PDM, a political movement founded by the late General Shehu Musa Ya’Adua. Following the unfortunate death of the General, Atiku became the leader of that political movement.
Thus, Atiku was in a higher pecking order than Tinubu in the PDM political movement. However, the political influence of Atiku in the Northern states, cannot be compared to the large influence Tinubu brought to bear in the South-West geopolitical zone, especially Lagos State that he holds in a vice-grip politically.
Lagos is the richest state in Nigeria and the near total control by Tinubu of its political affairs since 1999 has made him one of the most influential and wealthiest politicians in Nigeria today.
His victory at the APC presidential primaries and the way it was achieved is an attempt by him to extend his influence as a regional political leader to the national scene. Whether he will succeed in this will be determined by the outcome of the presidential election of 2023. Tinubu is the national leader of the ruling political party and that obviously gives him a head start in the presidential race.
As I said earlier in my previous write-ups, the 2023 presidential election is going to be a two-horse race between the ruling APC and the main opposition PDP. All other parties are fringe political parties. Only the APC and the PDP can boast of the huge cultural votes which are important for the victories of political parties at polls.
During the presidential primaries of a major political party what matters is the victory of an aspirant, and how he achieves victory is dependent on immanent political dynamics of the time. I, therefore, think that both Atiku and Tinubu should be celebrated for their emphatic victories in their respective political parties presidential primaries.
Their victories did not come easy, they defeated many co-aspirants to clinch the victories; it was not dropped on their laps, they worked very hard to achieve their victories.
In the course of their victories, they defeated many aspirants from the South-East who could not put up any strong fight for the ticket. They had all expected to be anointed and helped by a higher authority in undemocratic ways.
What manner of a contestant is he who cannot hold his own and always expect to be helped before he can achieve any victory? It is my position that the presidential aspirants from the Igbo nation in the two major political parties in Nigeria should not have indicated interests at all if they knew that they were not prepared for the ensuing contest.
To the best of my knowledge, the only two people who acquitted themselves creditably were Governor Nyesom Wike and former governor and minister, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi. Incidentally, both are Igbos from the South-South geopolitical zone.
It is obvious that the much vaunted Nigerian president of Igbo extraction may be achieved through the Igbos from the two states in the South-South geopolitical zone.
My faith in the Igbos in the South-East is no longer as strong as it used to be because of recent developments. They are now perceived as noise makers and often too weak to compete against strong oppositions.
Playing on emotions at every turn is the antics of straw-men. Power is sweet and it is earned and taken, it is never given. In the interest of justice, fair play and equity, I had expected the APC to look in the direction of the Igbos for their presidential candidate. Dr Ogbonnaya Onu spoke to that point at the convention but it was too late as the minds of delegates were already made up by the time he spoke.
The APC had the duty to ensure justice for the Igbos, but their failure to do that showed insincerity on their part. The APC Northern Governors who insisted that the next presidential candidate must come from the South without any thought for the Igbos did not go the full hog as expected of honest leaders. They were patriotic but fell short of holding the bull by the horns.
This not withstanding, nothing justifies the shambolic performances of the presidential aspirants from the South-East geopolitical zone. You must not contest for an office if you know you are not serious about your aspirations and therefore expect it to be handed over to you by administrative fiat.
That is why I had so much admirations for Amaechi because he came out to me as the most serious, prepared and formidable Igbo aspirant on the platform of the ruling APC. But since the party threw the contest open to every part of Nigeria, I do not begrudge Tinubu’s victory. He fought like a strong man and earned his victory; it is thus well deserved.
With Tinubu’s victory, the easiest and earliest route to achieve a Nigerian President of Igbo extraction now is through the PDP. But the Igbos must engage other Nigerians and build the required network and consensus of political alliances. Those who believe that they can achieve it through Mr Peter Obi in the Labour Party, LP, are daydreaming and probably living in another planet.
I am a moralist but I don’t pander to emotions in taking decisions. I am realistic, pragmatic, rational and scientific in my decision-making processes. I have strategically looked at the scenarios and the earliest time for a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction is 2027 if Atiku wins and will serve only one term or 2031 if he wins and will serve the constitutionally allowed two terms. Resorting to protest votes by joining a fringe and electorally inconsequential political party is unhelpful.
For Igbos to make a headway in Nigerian politics they must operate from within the two dominant political parties. That is what the other ethnic groups are doing and Igbos cannot afford to be different.
The ongoing social media propaganda about the presidential candidate of the LP and former Governor of Anambra state amazes me in no small measure.