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Road to 2027: Can the North stop Tinubu? (I)

A couple of weeks ago I got a call from one of my readers in Lagos who wanted me to confirm rumours of a coup…

A couple of weeks ago I got a call from one of my readers in Lagos who wanted me to confirm rumours of a coup and reports of soldiers of the Brigade of Guards manning strategic places in the FCT. I told him, like all residents, that I saw the unusual presence of soldiers in the city and a couple of checkpoints, but that I could not say for sure if that indicated a coup scare. As he persisted in his inquiry, I advised him that either Major General Edward Buba of Defence Information or Major General Onyeama Nwachukwu at the Army Headquarters’ information section would be of better help.

My friend did not seem satisfied with my answer and then launched into a tirade which left me baffled and thoughtful. He said that any coup now would be resisted stoutly by Southerners, especially if the head of such a coup was a Northerner, noting that it would signal the end of Nigeria as “Biafra, Niger Delta and Oduduwa republics” would be activated, leaving only “Arewa Republic” on their own. He ended up by saying I should carry the message to “your Northern brothers”; that President Bola Tinubu must be allowed to serve eight years just as Southerners tolerated Muhammadu Buhari’s incompetence and nepotism, and that Northerners too must be patient with what was happening under Tinubu no matter how painful.

He pointedly said that after Tinubu it would be the turn of the South East for another eight years and thereupon the South South would take its turn before political power would shift back to the North. A total of 24 years from now.

I did not want to argue with him because it was pointless holding such maximalist opinions on issues that are largely subject to undetermined variables of political interaction. I reckoned holding such agricultural opinions on Nigerian politics was not only misleading but also dangerous if such views did not pan out eventually.

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But on the other hand, his views compelled me to reflect on developments in Northern Nigeria in the context of present political realities and into the future. It occurred to me that at present the North seems to be caught in the vortex of momentous political, economic and social developments that will likely fundamentally challenge its pivotal position and role in national politics.

What are these developments and how are they likely to shape the future of politics in Nigeria?

With President Tinubu’s ascendance to office on May 29, 2023, a quiet but significant political sea change occurred in Nigeria’s political history. It marked the full entry for the first time of the South West political region into the mainstream of Nigerian politics. For most of Nigeria’s political history, the South West had always been content to play the opposition role. But with the coming of Tinubu and his political machine to the centre stage, indications are that the South West intends to stay there for good; at least in the foreseeable years. And that can only be at the expense of the Northern political establishment which had held the centre stage for so long. That is what will form the undercurrent of the 2027 political battle; President Tinubu’s need to deepen and consolidate his and the South West’s roots in the mainstream of Nigerian politics against a Northern push-back at attempts to push the region out of its position of dominance in the political space.

I will hazard a guess that Tinubu’s game plan in this regard will be to systematically strip the North of its advantages; thus weakening its competitive edge in national politics. From all indications, he came prepared for this.

President Tinubu’s platform for the political battle with the Northern political establishment is what I will call the Asiwaju Political Holdings; a personalised political holdings structure that will speculate and hold available political stocks in the Nigerian political market. Already, this political holdings structure has taken over the stocks of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and a substantial chunk of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Both now function as departments of the Asiwaju Political Holdings.

The Asiwaju movement knows no political and economic boundaries and moves with the force and effect of a well-oiled conquering machine, subsuming everything in its wake. It has taken control of Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt – the three most important political and economic cities in Nigeria – for business, commerce and media respectively, and also for government and politics and for oil and gas. It has moved swiftly to assume control of the financial, banking, insurance, maritime, oil and gas, judiciary, legislature, military and political sectors of the country.

In the coming months, this inevitable political force is poised to take over all sectors in its wake such that by 2027 it would have neutralised or emasculated all opposition or stumbling blocks to the re-election of President Tinubu.

It is the platform with which President Tinubu and his majorly South West-based political mafia intend to completely take over the Nigerian political space; elbowing out the Northern political mafia which it identifies as its main opponent in this zero sum political game. The Asiwaju movement does not consider the Igbo-based South East and South South political groups as prime opponents. Those are to be subsumed and used in the political battle against the Northern political establishment for the retention of political power in the South in the next 16 years.

The elements to be deployed in this battle are media, government and money; all of which the Asiwaju political machine has full and copious control over. Media power will be deployed to create and control the narrative of Northern political dominance of Nigeria for all these years to the detriment of other regions in a skewed way. Government power will be used in a carrot and stick way to deny appointments, favours and patronage; and conversely to woo, reward and cajole those that are seen to be of strategic necessity in the political battle ahead. Money power is of course the game changer. It is the instrument that penetrates and unlocks all probable resistance, and with the debilitating poverty stalking the land and with the devaluation of the naira, the Asiwaju political machine has more than enough war chest of money to flood the political system and secure compliance with its requests and determine outcomes.  

How will the North counter this and how effective will its efforts be in this regard?


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