Confusion in APC over 2023 is needless… The APC is double-speaking on which of the Southern zone will clinch the presidency in 2023

Robert Obioha

Recently, the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, was quoted as urging his Yoruba ethnic group to vote for President Muhammadu Buhari in the February presidential poll so that the presidency will come to the Yoruba in 2023. Osinbajo’s position on 2023 presidency is the same with an earlier one by the Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola.

Osinbajo’s folly of ethnic bigotry

But before the duo made their thoughts on 2023 public, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha, had earlier told the people of the South-East to vote for President Muhammadu Buhari in order to guarantee the zone’s ascendency to the presidency come 2023. Although some groups and individuals have responded to what Mustapha, Fashola and Osinbajo said on 2023 politics, this intervention is an important addition to what other commentators have adumbrated on the issue.

To start with, confusion in APC over 2023 is needless. It is becoming clearer each day that the APC is double-speaking on which of the Southern zone will clinch the presidency in 2023 if Buhari wins or loses the 2019 poll. A party cannot be promising two zones within the South one position come 2023. The APC plan to use 2023 to buy 2019 or vice versa is not sincere at all. In the party’s game plan, it wants to buy Yoruba and Igbo votes for 2019 with 2023 promise of the presidency.

This double-speaking should worry APC chieftains from the South-East who have been trumpeting for months that the only way the Igbo can rule Nigeria is by voting Buhari in 2019. They must have seen the deceit in their argument. They must have seen the illogicality of their position with what Fashola and Osinbajo said recently.

It is curious that some people including the Igbo in APC believe that one person will make an Igbo president of Nigeria come 2023. That position is fallacious as well as illogical. For an Igbo to be the president of Nigeria is the decision of the Nigerian electorate. An Igbo becoming the president of Nigeria does not in any way depend on the decision of one man or voting for one man.

Besides, the presidency of Nigeria since 1999 is based on the rotation of power between the North and the South. In 1999, the presidency was zoned to the South, particularly the South-West to placate them over the annulled June 12, 1993 election generally believed to have been won by their kinsman, the late Chief MKO Abiola. That was why despite little support from his kinsmen, Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo became the flag bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and later won the 1999 presidential election.

But when he vied for reelection in 2003, he got the support of his people. He ruled Nigeria as a democratically elected president for eight years. In 2007, the presidency was zoned to the North, and the late Umaru Yar’Adua emerged as the PDP candidate and later won the election with Dr. Goodluck Jonathan as his vice president. Yar’Adua ruled for about three years before he died. Jonathan took over as Acting President and later President to complete the remaining year of Yar’Adua’s first term.

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He later contested for the 2011 presidential poll and won. His attempt for re-election was highly politicized especially by people who claimed that he signed an agreement to run for one term alone. He denied such claims and contested but lost. He conceded defeat and congratulated the winner before the final result was declared. Buhari won and is about completing his first term. He is seeking for reelection which he is constitutionally entitled to do if he so wishes.

Buhari’s main opposition in the forthcoming poll is no other than the Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), a party that the Igbo voted in 2015. Atiku Abubakar’s vice presidential candidate is former Anambra State governor, Mr. Peter Obi. For voting the PDP in 2015, the Igbo were victimized by the ruling APC, especially in terms of appointments.

Up to the time of writing this article, the Igbo have no place in Buhari’s government in terms of appointments despite claims by his handlers that such huge imbalance in appointments must be redressed. The ministers the Igbo got are what the constitution said they will get. Most of them are not juicy in Nigerian parlance. Because the Igbo gave him five percent votes while others gave him 97 percent, they must be marginalized in the life of the APC administration.

While it is true that nobody knows tomorrow except God, some Nigerian politicians are already telling us which ethnic group will be in Aso Rock come 2023.

For the sake of equity and natural justice, if the presidency shifts to the South whether in 2023 or 2027 or whatever, it will be the turn of the South-East. No zone in the South will argue with the South-East over that because the South-West and the South-South have taken turns.

While the South-West ruled for eight years under President Olusegun Obasanjo, the South-South ruled for five years under President Goodluck Jonathan. The South-East remains the only zone from the South yet to rule the country. I hope this sounds clear to those fanning the embers of ethnicity to hold on to power come 2023.

Politicians should play politics but they must play it according to the rules of the game. Using ethnicity or religion to gain political advantage is frowned upon by our electoral laws. The entire country is big enough for all of us to play our politics. But let no politician foment avoidable crisis because of his personal ambition.

The nation’s zoning arrangement should have been incorporated in our electoral laws and the constitution so that it cannot be flouted by an ambitious politician. It is not yet late to do so. For the 2019 polls to the free, fair and credible, let the electorate vote who they want to vote irrespective of tribe or creed. Tribal and religious politics will lead Nigeria to nowhere. It will never take us to the moon. It will only lead to avoidable disaster.

In all that our politicians do, let them think of the nation first, let them think of Nigerians. They should stop seeing the people as Igbo, Yoruba or Hausa, Fulani, Gwari, Birom, Efik and Ijaw. Nigerian politicians should seek ways of unifying the country instead of fanning the embers of disunity. Those politicizing the politics of 2019 with 2023 should be called to order. The Igbo and indeed other ethnic groups should disregard the APC poor reading of 2019 and 2023. Let all the parties tell Nigerians why their candidate should be voted into office.

Which Nigerian ethnic nations have the prettiest women?