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North-Southwest rapprochement, the new political reality (II)

In many ways, Tinubu’s victory at the 2023 presidential polls represents a major political paradigm shift. It is a culmination of the political journey which…

In many ways, Tinubu’s victory at the 2023 presidential polls represents a major political paradigm shift. It is a culmination of the political journey which Tinubu himself first led in 2015 by bringing for the first time, the South West into a political alliance with the North to contest and win national elections. Had the June 12, 1993 elections not been annulled that would have been the threshold.

And in real political terms, we cannot consider the 1991 election or power shift to the South West through President Obasanjo as representing a genuine or real rapprochement between the North and South West. It was at best an attempt by the military/political establishment of the North to compensate both the South West for the June 12, 1993 annulment and former military president Olusegun Obasanjo for his jailing by military head of state Sani Abacha on allegations of involvement in coup plotting.

Obasanjo not been a big fish politically in the South West, the political arrangement did not register that much among the South West political establishment even though as one of theirs they could not help but welcome it. But it was more of a cover-your-nose political development which the South West viewed with suspicion and ambivalence throughout the Obasanjo years in power.

But the ascension of Tinubu is not just a personal victory for him representing the height of his political odyssey, it also brought with it a new political reality that now promises to be the platform for the reconstruction of Nigerian politics. 

One thing this reality reiterates is that the North especially is the fulcrum of Nigerian politics. This is a recurring decimal in Nigerian politics which has been reaffirmed all through the years. In the past, the northern political establishment aligned with South South and South East intermittently leaving the South West to play the opposition out of choice and by the political manoeuvres of both the South South and South East.

With the newfound political rapprochement between the North and South West, we can expect a new fundamental realignment in the structure of politics in Nigeria.

But this raises pertinent questions that must be addressed.

Will Asiwaju Tinubu consider his victory more as a personal political ascension one in which he will relax his oars and just run a court of Bourdilon with all its accompanying temptation to self-glorify? Will it be that after his tenure the southwest will revert to its old perch in opposition politics? Or will he use the opportunity of his ascension to power to design a new political architecture in the country much as he did in Lagos and much of the South West identifying and bringing in ‘’young Turks’’ from all over the country with new orientation and direction to genuinely change the trajectory of politics and development in the country?

I believe the character and character of especially the 2023 elections points to the way that Nigeria should follow in achieving a much-needed paradigm political shift.

First of all, Tinubu will by now realise that his victory owes much to the voters outside of his native political area. He got more votes in the entire north than he did in the south. Specifically in this regard, he lost Osun and Lagos the two states closest to him politically. And the margin in the number of votes he got in the South West and the North West is razor thin. 

Another positive factor is that Tinubu was victorious in four out of the six geo-political zones in the country namely; North West, South West, North East and North Central. In mathematical terms, this represents about 70 per cent or two-thirds support base. 

Tinubu can also take satisfaction from the fact in one of the geo-political zones in which he did not score so well, the South South, there are already signs that in the not-so-distant future they will shift their political allegiance towards his political direction especially if he tailors his political engineering efforts towards wooing them.

Indeed although they did not support him, nevertheless the South South rather than show ambivalence or truculence has indicated that they will be willing to do business with him and his administration. In the likely event of that happening, the only other geo-political zone that now is at odds with Tinubu, the South East would be compelled by political developments to reassess its position vis-à-vis emerging political realities. 

We can then project that looking at the political tea leaves, there exists great potential under the incoming Tinubu administration to set Nigeria on the path of unprecedented political and socio-economic development. 

All this depends on Tinubu realising the great opportunity and potential he has before him to change Nigeria for the better. 

For perhaps the first time in Nigeria’s political history, he can take advantage of the outcome of his ascension to power to forge the much-needed consensus among the political tendencies in the country. Going by the signs Tinubu is not likely to generate staunch enduring disaffection and ambivalence in some regions of the country as his immediate predecessor President Muhammadu Buhari did thereby creating suspicion about his intentions no matter how well-meaning.

Unlike Buhari, he will most likely be given the benefit of the doubt and this he could utilize to advance his political agenda. This he could do by deft political engineering bringing on board the major political players and groups under one roof and using that to lay down an enduring platform for the development of the country. 

All said, President-elect Tinubu has his work cut out for him. If he considers his ascension as a stage to rest on his oars and just enjoy and bask in the flow of power, then he will soon find out that his was a political anti-climax that would bring all he has laboured for politically to nought, consigning him to place reserved for the villains of history. But if he sees it as an opportunity to lift this country from its present booby traps to the greatness it portends just as his political journey took him from the backwaters of Iragbiji in Osun to the pinnacle of his present achievement, then he will have etched his name in gold in the annals of Nigeria’s history.  (Concluded)

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