Presaging the future
By Emmanuel Ndon
Recent political developments in the country appear to favour a movement to the past where alliances with strong political parties and blocks determined the allocation of power. Few instances will suffice here to drive the point home. The first is the outcome of the presidential and national assembly polls which was held on February 23, 2019. From the results, it is evident that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is the dominant party in the South-South and South-East regions while the All Progressives Congress (APC) holds sway in the North and South-West regions.
Like in pre-colonial times, political parties in Nigeria have become a reflection of their regions. These parties, as in the past, define the colour of politics in their regions and form the basis for any power sharing arrangements. Going down memory lane, there was the Northern Peoples Congress (NPC) for the North; the Eastern Region had the National Council for Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC) while the Action Congress was the party of the West. The NPC was led by Ahmadu Bello; Chief Obafemi Awolowo led the Action Congress while Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe was the leader of NCNC.
During the 1959 elections, no single party was able to win the majority. A coalition government was formed between the NPC and NCNC which saw Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa as Prime Minister and Dr. Nnamdi Azikiweas Governor-General at independence. I may not go further than that, but this history became necessary to establish the place and importance of alliances, as well as the strength inherent in power blocs. In our recent history,the North and the South West reenacted the alliances of the pre –colonial period in their quest for political power. This is evidenced by the fusion of the erstwhile Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) formed by Muhammadu Buhari and the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) formed by Bola Tinubu to become the All Progressives Congress (APC). The contributions of other small parties like the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) etc., appeared insignificant. As already well known, this alliance was responsible for Buhari’s victory in 2015 election.
Although there are complaints of irregularities in the last presidential and national assembly elections, the important thing to note is that the voting pattern remained virtually the same as in 2015. The South –South and South –East remained a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) enclave, while the North and South West are predominantly APC. The outcome of the polls has established the South-South and South-East geopolitical zones as PDP strongholds. The import of this result is that the PDP has a chance to make inroads to other areas if only it can consolidate on the gains of this result. It would do the region a whole lot of good to replicate the structures of PDP across the states of the two regions. As the governorship and House of Assembly election beckons, the PDP is expected to fill in their governors and lawmakers to stand a chance of determining their political future. Should the South-South and South-East come together in PDP, it would be much easier for them to dictate the pace of developments in their regions as well as negotiate a favourable power formula and equation in 2023 peradventure, Buhari, who has already been declared winner, is eventually sworn in for a second term.
The PDP should note that if it fails to consolidate its ownership of the region, it doesn’t stand a chance of defeating the APC even after 2023. But even in the next dispensation, the party must be seen as constituting a formidable political bloc with PDP as their own, otherwise they may never be able to negotiate power in 2023. This is what happened in the past and, it seems, unless the PDP can muster its control of the region, APC will hold on to their alliance to perpetuate itself in power. Leaders of the PDP in the regions should redouble their efforts to make the party a strong voice that it has shown to be in the last elections. Evidently, PDP remains the only viable alternative for the South- South and South-East regions in the country.
Secondly, the two regions appear to share the same fate and the most neglected in Nigeria’s power equation. Thus, they have a lot to gain by consolidating a stronghold in the PDP. Take another instance in the clamour for restructuring. The North and the South West (though a tiny portion) appear to have muted the agitation. Viewed from the perspective that the bulk of the nation’s wealth is derived from the shores of the region- particularly South-South, yet the region is the most neglected in terms of infrastructure and other social indices. Cries for a piece of the oil blocks owned exclusively by the North have fallen, successively, on deaf ears. Interestingly, the APC government rode on the wings of restructuring to power in 2015. It has reneged in their promise to restructure the country to devolve powers to regional or state governments, simply because it feels, the ultimate beneficiaries would be the people of the South. All of the first four years is gone – and here we are in another round of elections – nothing has been heard of the Nasir el Rufai restructuring report, after two years.
Atiku Abubakar, PDP presidential candidate, remained the fulfilment to the hope of restructuring the country to take its place in true federalism. The APC cannot pretend that it is not a party for the North and South West; thus the people of the South –South have no choice than to stick with the PDP. Political analyst, Dr. Effiong Edunam had noted that it is the PDP that gave the South-South the opportunity to rule Nigeria, and the South-South should still remain grateful to the party. Many more reasons abound for the people of the region to stay with the PDP. So far, no governor in APC has performed better than those of PDP aside from Lagos with humongous resources. PDP still remains the best choice for the region, this is why the people should resist every intimidation or blackmail from those whose selfish pecuniary interests have beclouded rational judgement, to support the party on Saturday, 9th March. This is the future of the people.