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Political power in Nigeria – Part 11

By Sylvester Odion Akhaine
15 March 2023   |   3:44 am
The gubernatorial and state assemblies elections will hold, all things being equal, on March 18, 2023. In the meantime, I examine three issues that are relevant to our analysis of the phenomenon of power in the Nigerian polity.

[FILE] Peter Obi walks through the crowd of supporters at the Labour Party rally in Ibadan, Oyo State.

The gubernatorial and state assemblies elections will hold, all things being equal, on March 18, 2023. In the meantime, I examine three issues that are relevant to our analysis of the phenomenon of power in the Nigerian polity. These issues include teenage voters, the battle at the Apex Court; and the Igbo strategy for power.

Firstly, I address the issue of teenage voters. In Kano state on February 25, 2023, there was an encounter between Arise Television correspondent and Yakubu Mohammed, the Commissioner of Police, that underscored the foundational lies, in other words, the sustaining logic of the Lugardian Architecture. Here is the conversation between the two. Arise TV correspondent, posed this question: “We saw the massive presence of minors, children obviously, from their look.

Indiscriminately unchecked at various polling centres, couldn’t this have been better organised to prevent minors from penetrating, eh, from being part of this voting exercise?” Mohammed responded: “It is very difficult to determine by mere appearance who is a minor or not. Eh, most of the ones you are seeing, maybe their genetic, [and] their growth rate might be impaired. Eh, I don’t know. All those that you see voting, they are those that have been approved by INEC, and I cannot change it.”

In my articulation of the Lugardian Architecture in the preceding parts of this serial, I argued the point to the effect that census falsification beginning from 1866 had been part of the making of the ‘inheritance elite’. The Kano incident has been practiced in parts of northern Nigeria. It simply shows that population figures often touted, are statistical lies to justify the retention of power in the north. With a generation shift and evolving electoral technology, the Nigerianisation of the House of Lugard, perhaps, has begun.

William Shakespeare writes in Julius Caesar: “The Ides of March have come,” said Caesar, and the soothsayer retorted, “Aye, Caesar, but not gone”. All is not quiet in the ‘second front’ which was anchored on the PDP. Having lost to APC in the votes declared by INEC, the staccato of the guns is now echoing from the Apex Court.

LP has also teamed up with the PDP in the legal battle with veterans of the law. This is the order of battle (OBAT): APC: Lateef Fagbemi; Ahmad El-Marzuq, Sam Ologunorisa, Rotimi Oguneso, Olabisi Soyebo, Gboyega Oyewole, Muritala Abdulrasheed, Aliyu Saiki, Tajudeen Oladoja, Pius Akubo, Oluseye Opasanya, Suraju Saida, and Kazeem Adeniyi. PDP: Chris Uche (SAN), Paul Usoro (SAN), Tayo Jegede (SAN), Ken Mozia (SAN), Mike Ozekhome (SAN), Mahmood Magaji (SAN), Joe Abraham (SAN), Chukwuma Umeh (SAN), Garba Tetengi (SAN) and Emeka Etiaba (SAN), Goddy Uche (SAN), Prof. Maxwell Gidado (SAN); the National Legal Adviser of the PDP, A. K. Ajibade (SAN), O. M. Atoyebi, (SAN), Nella Rabana (SAN), Paul Ogbole (SAN), Nuremi Jimoh (SAN), and Abdul Ibrahim (SAN). LP: Dr Livy Uzoukwu (SAN); Chief Awa Kalu(SAN), Dr. Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), P.I.N. Ikwueto (SAN), Chief Ben Anyachebe (SAN), S.T. Hon(SAN), Arthur Obi Okafor (SAN), I K Ezechukwu(SAN), J.S. Okutepa(SAN), Dr Mrs Valerie Azinge (SAN), Emeka Okpoko (SAN), and Alex Ejesieme (SAN).While the battle is on, each flank is being daily reinforced with deployment.

If history is anything to go by, politics would prevail over legal mumbo jumbo. Anyway, history itself is full of surprises. I now turn to Soludo’s Epistle to Peter Obi of LP, entitled “History Beckons and I will not be Silent”.

Soludo’s letter is about Igbo’s Strategy to secure a room in the Lugardian Architecture. To summarise: Soludo argued that it was time for the Igbo to organize their region politically before stepping out to bargain power with other organized coalitions. The strategy for this has been articulated by the Planning and Strategy Committee of 2019 and the Abuja Memorandum of 2010.

In this connection, APGA should be the vehicle through which Igbo would organize to engage the rest of Nigeria politically as the South-West power bloc has done under Tinubu’s leadership. The latter has not only organised itself under different political platforms but went into an alliance that kicked out a sitting president. Unfortunately, the Igbo are in a “political cul de sac” with their fleeting “Nzogbu, Nzogbu politics”.

Therefore, he called for a strategy of engagement and not fleeting organisational endeavor. Furthermore, he argued that in the 2023 electoral cycle, in a four-way race for the Igbo, and a two-way race in the other five geopolitical zones, the Igbo would lose.

He then called for Plan B to be anchored on a three-point agenda of restoration of peace and freedom for Nnamdi Kanu, the realisation of the South East Economic transformation based on the post-war federal government’s Marshall Plan; and restructuring with devolution of powers to the sub-national governments and equitable ground for the private sector to thrive and full accommodation of the Ndigbo in the affairs of the country.

Soludo’s views, though vilified in the frenzy of elections, are pragmatic and futuristic on Igbo access to power at the centre. Hopefully, I will engage with the outcome of the March 18 elections and end this serial next week.

Akhaine, Ph.D. (London), former general secretary of the Campaign for Democracy in Nigeria.