Atiku’s Running Mate: Why Southeast Should Not Let Go – By Law Mefor
There has been this beautiful argument on why ndigbo should allow the southwest have a double header as VP for both the APC and the PDP. It is the sort of argument that many would dismiss as a beautiful nonsense. Yet, it is gaining traction and should not be denied access to publicity anymore. One must confess, the argument is fairly compelling. But it certainly falls short of some critical benchmarks.
After the 2015 Presidential Election, which the PDP lost, the Party (PDP) set up a postmortem and reorganising committee headed by the Deputy Senate president, Senator Ike Ekweremadu. That strategic committee did not only recommend that PDP should zone its presidential slot to the North but also zone the VP to southeast. In line with those reasoned and adopted prescriptions of the Ekweremadu committee, the entire dozen PDP aspirants came from the north. Rather than allow Atiku Abubakar pick his running mate from the southeast, kite fliers are at it, presenting him with alluring reasons he has to jettison the accepted Committee recommendations, which even produced him as the Party’s flag-bearer.
The argument on why PDP VP slot is presumed by these permutations to be best from southwest wrongly assumes that the zone is the decider of the 2019 presidential poll and therefore once the zone is divided, a pathway to Atiku’s victory would become all the more obvious. Really?
This postulation appears incurably defective for many reasons. In 2015, southwest, though contributed fundamentally, contributed just about 2m votes to the APC kitty. Kano alone, as part of the nPDP, contributed almost as much as the entire southwest. The man that made the Kano nPDP give that much to the APC namely Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso is back to the PDP. One does not expect that Kwankwaso of the Kwakwasiyya fame would deliver as many votes as he delivered as an incumbent governor. But the Kwankwaso factor can only be ignored to one’s peril. As Kwankwaso himself acknowledged in Port Harcourt during the PDP primaries, the point here is that it was the nPDP that gave Buhari victory and not the southwest as erroneously held in some quarters even though Ahmed Bola Tinubu provided the initial impetus.
What’s more, times are changing. The tightening gap between APC and PDP in the election outcomes in Ekiti and Osun clearly show the ruling party does no longer have that dominant hold on southwest.
Not only that, APC in its poor imbibing of impunity, wished Ambode away and paved way for veteran Jimi Agbaje who has an overarching reach in Lagos to return to the fray as PDP guber candidate. The Jimi Agbaje factor working mainly in tandem and synergy with non-Yoruba’s, will ensure that Lagos is not a walk in park for the ruling party.
Where then is the reason why ndigbo should let go of the VP slot zoned to them ab initio?
It’s important to also state why Atiku should not let go of his search for his vice in the southeast. There are half a dozen factors why the southeast should not let go also.
First, being part of Nigeria and having the right to produce President and Vice, the southeast should not sacrifice such God-given opportunity for the so-called political expediency.
Second is the power of the front seat. Since the days of Dr. Alex Ekwueme as Vice President, Southeast never came close to power. Since restructuring is what is uppermost on the mind of the zone, producing a Vice president can ensure the issue is not swept under the carpet like APC did.
Third is power of proximity. Every vice president has some right to succeed the President. Be it Osinbajo or another Yoruba, it is only natural that he or she would aspire to succeed the departing President. This inherent desire caused the rift between Atiku and Obasanjo.
Fourth, producing Nigeria President of Igbo extraction is closer from a vice president’s position. In other words, distancing the southeast from the office of the Vice president is distancing the zone also from the office of the President of Nigeria.
So, those arguing against ndigbo producing the VP for Atiku at this point really argue amiss and do the zone more harm than good.
Some have even argued that ndigbo would be better off with Senate president. That argument is neither here nor there. If zoning didn’t work in 2015, what’s the guarantee that it will work in 2019 with the same actors?
In federalism, each federating unit enters the equation from a position of strength. The southeast should not always go on voyage of discoveries of zones in the country to assuage and make happy.
It’s time the Southeast took care of itself and its people. The zone has sacrificed enough and should demand reciprocal entitlements for its noble and patriotic labour, which has kept Nigeria one.
From foundation, it has always been mainly southeasters working and sacrificing to bring and keep the country together. Zik did not become Prime Minister because he thought if he did; the north could leave the union. This tendency has repeated itself over and over.
What’s more, a southeast producing VP would consolidate the zone’s votes. The southwest, middle belt and southwest ought to see it from that perspective. Southwest particularly is divide into Afenifere and Tinubu camps with the former pushing for restructuring along with the rest of the south and middle belt. They cannot insist of producing the VP for Atiku in order to vote for him for the actualization of the restructuring agenda, just like the Tinubu side will not be changed in their inclination to Tinubu, Osinbajo and APC.
Again, southeast zone parades great materials to deliver in that office and make the task of rescuing Nigeria from the slide into feudalism only easier and merrier.
Let us consider one or two of the great minds from the east. If there is one man the southeast could entrust with its future and representation in contemporary Nigeria, it is Ike Ekweremadu. He is a man who is what every politician wants of an intellectual and what every intellectual would want in a politician. A quiet achiever, like octopus, he has his overarching tentacles all over Nigeria. A choice of a man like Sen. Ike Ekweremadu as VP is but a foremost choice. The problem is that Ekweremadu thinks more of lawmaking than executive functions and has to be seriously persuaded otherwise.
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has done it before. When she was coordinating, she steadied the nation’s economy, freed Nigeria from foreign loans and brought far-reaching reforms that made Nigeria the biggest and fastest growing economy in Africa and, as VP, would repeat the feat and guarantee the votes of the womenfolk. The problem is that It would take quite a lot to convince the great lady to come to the rescue after her rueful experience.
Peter Obi as governor of Anambra state restored security and education to the State. He is also unapologetically frugal and can help cure Nigeria of debilitating profligacy. He too is a great choice. The impediment may be the thinking of some that his political horizon is shrinking.
Chukwuma Soludo has a similar capacity as Ngozi Okonjo-Iwela and being a homeboy is even an added advantage for him. As VP, the former CBN govenor, who designed NEEDS, can help Atiku banish poverty. His impediment is that he is in APGA. Can PDP turks let him in?
Southeast parades more first-class VP candidates to give Atiku and Nigeria choices to make the difference. Ndigbo must not let go and give in to the emotional blackmail. Like Shakespeare said, there’s a tide in the affairs of men. When an opportunity comes, seize it with both hands. It comes but once.
Dr. Law Mefor, a Forensic/Social Psychologist and Journalist, writes from Abuja. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; follow me on tweeter:@LawMefor1