By Suyi Ayodele
“Mr. Giwa is a trader. He has a shop in David’s village. His store is full of things to sell…”. This is the opening of one of the comprehensive passages in our New Oxford English Course, NOEC, books of yore. The legendary Mr. Giwa sells all manner of items from the edible to solid materials. He has no limits to what he sells. Mr. Giwa has soulmates in our politicians; especially southern politicians, who trade off southern political aspirations to the highest bidders from up north. These political traders, unlike Mr. Giwa, have no modicum of shame in them. They rape our collective sensibilities with their warped reasoning and logic. They appear altruistic in their submissions. They dish out arguments that, if not well analysed, can easily attract public approval of their hidden agenda. Beyond the posture of public good they project lies their true colour and intentions. They are self-serving in all ramifications. One must be thoroughly discerning to know their true missions.
The race for the 2023 general elections is getting to the boiling point. This month of May will decide the fate of Nigeria as the two major political parties: the ruling All progressive Congress, APC, and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, elect their standard bearers for the highest office in the land – the presidency. The incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari from the North, who defeated Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GEJ, from the South, in 2015, is in the last year of his eight-year tenure. Being from the North, and given the skewed nature of the pseudo-federalism we practise, the natural progression would have been for the presidency to come down south. That is where the problem begins and lies. The North is conscious of what it means to be out of power for the next eight years in case a southerner becomes the president. The DNA of the north does not share power with anyone. The North has not forgotten how “stranded” it felt when Jonathan took over from Umar Yar’Adua and went ahead to contest in 2011. The mafia in the North remember their shock when Jonathan sought a second term in 2015. They moved fast and befriended those they would not have greeted in the political ring if not that they were boxed into a corner. They approached the southern political wheeler dealers, who are always ready to sell and buy without conscience. The North dangled 2023 carrot. The southern carpetbaggers struck a deal. Then Buhari was delivered home and dry.
Now, 2023 is here. The north has come to realise that it cannot let go of power, not at least for a stretch of eight years. Their strategists went to work day and night. From their production room came the ruse of a southern presidency. Sources hinted that there is no notable presidential aspirant in the APC from the south today, who did not get the approval of Buhari and the northern mafia to go ahead! That is the strategy. Get as many of them down south to be in the race and then shop for a candidate up north that can upturn the apple cart. It is already happening. A non descript group, the Citizens Network for Peace and Development CNPD, is the first mole being used by the North to scuttle a 2023 southern presidency. CNDP is asking GEJ to contest. And guess what? The Otuoke shoeless man is dancing the elephant coronation dance. Yeah, Jonathan has not said yes or no, but his silence speaks in high decibel. I don’t have any problem with GEJ joining the party of his traducers, the APC, to contest the 2023 elections. Mother squirrel is one of the most caring mothers among mammals. She has a peculiar way of warning her children of dangers. She sees a ripe bunch of palm fruits and does not go near it. From a safe distance, she warns her children thus: “You see those ripe palm fruits afar off. Don’t go near them. There is a hunter waiting in ambush. When you warn your child, may the gods let him listen. The head of the baby squirrel may end up in the soup pot”. GEJ can go ahead and swallow the bait from the north. He can continue to dance to the “a o merin joba”- we will install the elephant as king – beat. If he did not sit down to listen to the folktale in the days of yore, I would volunteer to tell him what happened to the elephant. In the kingdom of the animals, there is only one king – King Lion. So it is with the North and power.
Running pari passu with the multiplicity of Buhari-approved southern presidential aspirants is the joker of southern political elements canvassing for equity for a South-East presidency. You undermine the fecundity of the North’s political manipulation at your own risk! The strategy is already working. Southerners are suddenly getting their pencil sharpened to sketch out how unfair the South-West and the South-South are to push forward aspirants for the 2023 presidential slot when the position should be delivered to the South-East, without asking. Orji Uzor Kalu, who recently dropped his ‘presidential ambition’, hinged his action on these words: “If there is anything like ‘fairness’, ‘equity’ and ‘justice’, it should be the entire South pushing for a president of South-East extraction. Anything less than this is ‘hypocritical’, ‘unjustifiable’ and ‘inordinate’. Good argument. Valid reasoning! I am a promoter of a south-eastern presidency. I hold it in my mind that the entire nation has never been fair to the Igbo race. I believe in an equitable, just and fair treatment of the South-East, any day, anytime. Kalu dropped this: “In the absence of this zoning, I shall return to the Senate and stay away from the presidential contest. The reality is that the North is more advantageous to win elections in this democratic setting.” That is where I have problems with the former Abia State governor. This latter part appears to me as the message he was sent to deliver.
Joining Kalu in the “calculation” that “the North is more advantageous to win elections in this democratic setting” is another southerner, Femi Fani-Kayode, FFK. In a piece entitled: ‘The Illusion of a Southern Presidency,” Fani-Kayode argued that the “North remains silent and is quietly doing their homework and planning with no rancour and little division. That is why they will have their way and no-one can deny the fact that they deserve it. He who plans quietly, operates covertly, displays caution, patience and wisdom, builds bridges, seeks unity, establishes alliances, identifies new friends, pursues a common and collective interest and is strategic in all his ways always wins.” The summary of FFK’s submission is another northern president, come 2023!
For the duo, I say this: the argument of the South being unfair to the South-East cannot hold water in this present calculation. The North has North-West, North-East and North-Central. Yar’ Adua was from the North-West like Buhari. What has happened to the other two zones? It is not funny that days after Kalu uttered the words above, the northern element used his newspaper to unveil Ahmad Lawan, the current Senate President, as a likely candidate! Coincidence? While I will 100 percent support anything that can make an Igbo the president of this county, when it comes to the issue of 2023 and the scheming for another northerner to take over from Buhari, any southerner will be ok for me.
If Fani-Kayode said we make too much noise down south, he should take lessons from the wisdom in the saying that “isu atenu mo oro ki jona” – the man who reminds you often is not likely to have his yam burnt. Fani-Kayode already has a candidate in the late adolescent governor of Kogi, North Central. He should leave us down south to continue to be “loud, brash, reckless, boastful, ostentatious, self-serving, incurably ignorant, historically illiterate, divisive, cowardly, quarrelsome, intellectually dishonest unforgiving, uncompromising, politically inexpedient, shortsighted, blighted by bitterness, hate and rage, blinded by wealth and riches,” in our clamour for a southern presidency in 2023. Our elders say no matter how loud you shout at a woman with goitre, she would not swallow the lump in her throat. If Fani-Kayode sees southern aspirants as noisy, what does he make of the clan of gastronomical clowns, who are ready to lick the North’s puke just for anything?
Is it not baffling enough that while FFK could see the noise and the acrimony among the southern aspirants, his vision is completely blurred to see the greed of the North producing the next president after Buhari? If Kalu is so concerned about the other parts of the south being “unfair” to the South-East, can he tell us his efforts at making his Igbo brothers to cut down to just one aspirant each in APC and PDP from that zone? Is a southern presidency outside the Igbo extraction justifiable enough for Kalu to say: “If the next president after President Muhammadu Buhari doesn’t come from the South-East, there will be nothing unfair and unjust if he or she comes from Daura”? Do Fani-Kayode, Kalu and other southerners waiting to write know that “ina ile ni omo eranko ma ya kehin” – the chicken will always come home to roost.? Do the duo and others to come after them know that the North has no permanent friends when it comes to power? Do they realise that when it comes to power, the North does not have equity, fairness and justice in its lexicon? Do they know, or are they blinded by the present gains? Whether Yoruba, Igbo, Isoko or Ilaje, does it matter who becomes the president from the South after Buhari?
Every southerner ‘mobilised’ to write in favour of a northern candidate should know that every ship will come back to the harbour. Someone once established the Association for Better Nigeria, ABN, to scuttle the June 12 presidential victory of MKO Abiola. Where is he today? The one who was warned by the elders in 2015 not to eat the poisoned apple of 2023 offered him by his northern friends but refused is today gnashing his teeth. Every trader in the souls of everything noble has a terminal date. This season of trading will pass. By 2023, the trading floor will be cleared. The carpetbaggers will return home. The wheeler dealers will come back to their tents. Then we shall ask them and their posterity how their forebears fared. History is a beast. It consumes all those whose conducts are recorded on the negative side. “Atakorowonuado” – the magical man who enters the gourd – cannot take his child along. I have no doubt about the end of southerners, who are projecting the North to take over from Buhari. Their end will be calamitous! If they cook here on earth and go to the seven heavens to get the soup, they will all end up very badly. In case they doubt this; in case they feel that they are well fortified in all ramifications of life and nothing will happen, let them listen and read this traditional poem: Okaka the bird curses, blood oozes out of its mouth. He says: ‘this one I have issued shall be irrevocable.’