By Peter Duru, Makurdi & Ogalah Ibrahim, Katsina
During the 2015 general elections, northern Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, governors were said to have mobilzed support for General Muhammadu Buhari, who was then the presidential candidate of the opposing All Progressives Congress, APC. This supposedly enabled Buhari to defeat the then incumbent and a southerner, Dr Goodluck Jonathan and won the presidential election.
Now that both the APC and the PDP have swapped positions for the 2023 elections with the APC fielding a southerner, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu as its presidential candidate and the PDP having a northern candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the thinking in some circles is that there may be a repeat of what happened in 2015 and northerners will vote for their own son in 2023.
A member of the All Progressives Congress APC, who does not wish to be named said, “I don’t see that happening this time. You know there were reasons behind those actions in 2015. At that time, Buhari was very popular.
So, many Governors were afraid to support any other candidate in the north because their seats would be at risk. Religious factor also played a major role then but now it is not the case as both candidates (Tinubu and Atiku) are Muslims. So you cannot use religion to divide the country.
“In fact, the action then was referred to as “Bakin Linta” in the north which means to raise a building and stop at lintel level. In other words, you vote PDP from the bottom upward but when it gets to voting for the president, you vote Buhari, APC.
“One of the reasons the PDP northerners governors voted against Jonathan was because they said he reneged on his promise to the north to do only one term. Buhari is a different person from Atiku and Atiku may not enjoy the support Buhari enjoyed in 2015 because it was the masses that wanted Buhari, so they fought and voted for him.”
“Now is the turn of PDP governors from the south to do that if they wish considering that some of their members from the south are still aggrieved over the party’s refusal to zone its presidential ticket to the south.
“If the PDP northern governors in 2015 can come together and say that their people should not vote GEJ who is from the south for refusing to serve only one term and allow power to return to the north, PDP governors from the south may also decide to throw their weight behind any of the southern candidates for failure of the party to zone its presidential ticket to the south.”
Jamilu Charanchi of the Coalition of Northern Group on his part said: “No, I don’t see that happening. What happened in 2015 was something that we cannot relate to either religion or ethnicity. It is something purely from the hearts of the people who thought that they were seeing a messiah, someone who could take Nigeria to the dreamland.
That was what people thought in 2015 but now the calculation is totally different. So, the truth is APC governors remain APC governors this time around because they are not looking for someone who is a messiah neither are they looking for someone who will save the country from the shambles or from the incapacity of the APC. But they are supporting somebody whom they feel, if they are in their first term can help them secure their second term bid and if they are in their second term will appoint them as ministers or offer them other juicy federal appointments.
So, this time around, they prefer to maintain their seat rather than save Nigeria from the quagmire we find ourselves in. So, I don’t see APC governors from the north supporting Atiku. Not at all.”
A business man in the state who also spoke to Vanguard on the ground of anonymity said: “Generally from my own perception, what I am seeing is that the 2015 elections is quite different from the 2023 election because in 2015 we thought Jonathan was a destroyer. The perception then was that Jonathan destroyed everything, particularly the heritage of Northern Nigeria.
Also people were brainwashed that all the Boko Haram, the attack, bombings were being doing deliberately to castigate the northern part of the country but now people have come to see the light. They have come to understand that politicians are politicians and nobody is looking for a good leader that can save this country. I believe that those who belong to APC will vote APC and those in PDP will vote PDP.
Honestly, the typical masses of northern Nigeria are not in support of APC. Even if they vote for APC they may vote because of the money that may exchange hands. I don’t see a typical northerner who is not a politician, who is not benefitting anything from APC voting for the party. I doubt if they can support APÇ again because they believe that APC is a total failure.
Secondly, the northern masses believe that if people like Buhari in APC cannot do anything good for the country, cannot protect his people, cannot protect the lives of the citizens and their property, they don’t think that there is anybody who can do that.”
The National President of Middle Belt Forum, Dr. Bitrus Pogu said, “what we call north, is it the far north, is it the Fulani Kanuri north or which North? Because when you talk of north, if it is anything north of the Niger as the British tried to make it, with the Niger and Benue, it doesn’t hold now. Because there are so many people who are in the north who do not accept to be called northerners because of this kind of behaviour which they displayed recently.
“But what I would rather say is we pray that these people will see themselves as Nigerians and not as northerners. And as Nigerians they are supposed to look for people or persons that can take Nigeria out of the woods, that can reunite Nigeria, that can solve the insecurity problem, that can solve the economic problems of Nigeria, that can move Nigeria to where it is supposed to be and occupy the right place in the committee of nations.
“You know that you cannot classify the North Central as core North, and aside the North Central we also have areas we call the Middle Belt, the northern minorities that were defined by the Willink’s Commission of 1957.
These were areas that were not under the caliphate or under the Sultanate of Borno when the British came during the colonization process. They were the people affected by the indirect rule, and that part of the north is the one now advocating and saying that we do not belong to this unruly behaviour. We are not part of the organs creating this insurgency. We believe in a united Nigeria where the plurality of the nation is respected.
“So it is those people up there, and even the people up there are divided, because the indigenous Hausas are now saying, you used religion to deceive us to take over our traditional institutions and made it all to be Fulani under the pretext and guise that you are preaching or doing some jihad. But when the Fulani came the Hausas were already Muslims and their traditional rulers were also Muslims.
“So there is even a division in the far north now. Now, I think even the so called north or far north is no more monolithic because it is breaking up.”