An eavesdropper’s putative account of a strategic meeting – Part 2
Let us continue our discussion by going down south. Let us begin with the South West – the home-base of Bola Tinubu. He is truly in charge, in spite of the strong ethno-cultural presence of the rump of Afenifere– the mainstream Yoruba political thinking cap. The group is manifestly the purveyor of the zone’s ruling ethic. Tinubu has however mesmerised the platform reducing it to a mere talkshop. But its influence among the Yoruba Left or the intelligentsia is pervasive even as its position on issues are reasoned, deep and clear-cut. But Tinubu is a fox. He cannot be trusted for all time. He is sure to deliver the south-west but may use it to bargain the presidential slot for himself in 2023. We must deal with him with great caution and tact. His presidency is unthinkable; it is odious. But that is a matter for after the polls. There is an emerging rebuff of his overbearing stranglehold on the politics of the south-west. This rejection is becoming widespread. Oyo, Ogun, Osun, for instance, are throwing up new vistas. Even though there is no governorship election in Osun this season, the state does not bear our party’s imprimatur. We seem to be on borrowed times, am afraid. We are not visibly popular here. Some two million votes from the south-west for the president is plausible but will be at great human and material cost. It is no moment that the region is home to a large crowd of rights activists, jingoists and dyed-in-the-wool nationalists. They will have their say but Tinubu will have his way; his will will prevail. This is Tinubu’s flowering season.
“The South-East geo-political zone is our party’s nemesis. The people are sworn enemies of our civilising mission. They are a stiff-necked people. Nothing will pacify them. I suggest we allow them to roast in their own stew. Fortunately they have only 5 states. We will strategically block any policy position to increase their stake in this regard. Their people are scattered about like sheep without shepherd. Happily, their combined effect can only produce about 1 million votes. We have ensured that. The 2023 presidency kite being flown in their firmament is just a ruse or what Obahiagbon will call “a stratagem to hoodwink”. It is to expose their lack of unity or unanimity as they will not agree even on principles. No people are more deceived by the dangling of a carrot!” “South-South presents us with the worst case scenario. Here the worst in human animal vestiges are manifested. Ordinarily this is “a no go area” but the states in the zone are too strategic to be ignored. They are the cash cow of the nation as together they account for more than 90% of Nigeria’s foreign exchange receipts. All of them together are the treasure base of Nigeria. They are however both a gift and a curse. Their young men are wild even as their elders have no restraining influence over them. Rivers and Bayelsa share similarities and are different from each other by only a notch. Their respective governors will go for broke and are expected to give their lives, if need be, for their party to continue to hold political sway in the region. Our own party does not have governors with such ardour. Ours are bread and butter smilies. Wike, for example, is a tiger. Even though trained by Rotimi Amaechi he has surpassed Amaechi in infamy and in the people’s extravagant admiration for his person and pizzazz. He holds the ace in the south-south.
The Ibori factor is weighing the scale against our efforts in Delta State. But we cannot openly court Ibori. To us he is a political leper. He is however warmly embraced and loved by his people. To a great extent our influence in Delta State will remain peripheral or incidental. The decampment of Akpabio has not in any way helped our cause. His people have roundly rejected him despite his grandstanding to the contrary. His chances of winning are dim. He is not likely to win his senatorial election but we are stuck with him. The dynamics of the politics of number and of a jigsaw ethnic configuration in Akwa-Ibom do not favour a minority candidate that is not supported or sponsored by the majority groups; or one that has rudely annoyed their sensibilities or abused their generosity. Our opponents are too deeply entrenched in Cross River. To dislodge them will require the titanic stature of an Isong or the cunning hand of an Ebri. All told, Cross River is not a comfortable terrain for us due to our party’s failure to embark on a conscious elite membership recruitment drive in the area. So much for the South-South”. “Mr Chairman, Sir we have side-stepped your State. I hope it is not deliberate”
“How can it not be deliberate? The best is always reserved for the last. Edo State, as you all know, has, under me as governor, emerged fully free from the clutches of the opposition. I wiped them all out so much so they are struggling to breathe. There is no place for them here. The people will not want to hear them or want them back. The opposition in Edo Sate are a bunch of ragamuffins, never-do-wells. I have dealt them a blow from which they may not survive for 100 years of our democracy QED. I am surprised that in all our discussion, no one has factored in the element of INEC. Our strategy will be to vociferously denounce INEC at every turn; to suggest that we too are opposed to certain administrative and policy positions of that body. At some point, we will noisily call for the sack or removal of its chairman. This way, the opposition will be lulled to sleep. When the election results will now come, and invariably in our favour, the whole world will be tempted to believe them. They will recall that we too have been visibly opposed to INEC throughout the preparation for the elections and so may not have been unduly favoured by the same body we pilloried.
A committee will be set up to pull through every item of our agreement here today. We will also keep tab on some of our governors who are behaving like the opposition. They are on their way to political extinction. They have bitten the finger that fed them. We will crush them. They say I am their problem; they are yet to identify their problem. Gentlemen, let us continue to watch events as they unfold. Someone may move the adjournment of this important meeting to sometime later”
•Rotimi-John, a lawyer and public affairs commentator wrote from Abuja