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2023: Where Are The Ethnic Minorities?

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As the campaigns for the 2019 elections approaches its climax, many Nigerians have shifted focus to 2023, with different players and ethnic nationalities strategising beyond the next general polls. Personally, I don’t see President Muhammadu Buhari losing the 2019 presidential election. Rigging or no rigging, the president is well placed to win the election for a number of reasons. First, it is too early for the PDP to come back to power. They will definitely win more states and more seats in the National Assembly in 2019, but winning the presidency is a tall order. Most Nigerians consider it an insult on their sensibilities when they see the PDP campaigning for the presidency.

The All Progressives Congress (APC) was able to sell all manner of promises to Nigerians in 2015 because they had never been at the government in centre and so could not be judged. And because Lagos State then was the poster of good governance, the progressives leveraged on the overhyped excellent performance in the state to sell its promise of utopia to Nigerians.

It is however a different case for the PDP in 2019. The party had been in government for 16 years and we know what they can do. During the Goodluck Jonathan administration, the country made so much money from crude oil sales. If just 50 per cent of the proceeds from the sale of crude were used for development and infrastructure, we will not be where we are today. The amount of money realised from crude oil sales was not commensurate with the development on ground. Most of the money ended up in private pockets. This was the period looting was elevated to an art form.

This is why most Nigerians, find it nauseating and offensive when they see the party campaigning vigorously to come back in 2019. The question yearning for answers on the lips of the average Nigerian is what does the PDP want again in Aso Rock? But in politics you never know. Rational thinking takes  the back seat in elections in Nigeria. The performance of the APC has given a boost to the PDP’s chances in 2019.

Before I digress, let me go back to the topic of the day. We all know that in Nigeria no matter how beautiful your campaign and debates are, the two major issues that determine your victory are ethnicity and religion. Fortunately in 2019, the two major candidates, President Muhammadu Buhari and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar are Fulanis by tribe and Muslims by religion. This alone will lower the political temperature in the country.

Has anyone noticed that since Atiku emerged the candidate of the opposition, the hate campaign against the Fulani tribe has fizzled out? I heard from a reliable source that a governor from the North had to withdraw an anti-Fulani song which he sponsored when Atiku emerged PDP presidential candidate. All the essays and tweets on how the Fulani tribe is the most dangerous in the world have stopped flooding the media, which to an extent confirms that the anti-Fulani campaign was targeted at President Buhari and not the tribe.

At the same time, the president is not spared either. He has a good share of the blame for not checking the excess of killer herdsmen on time. Initially, Buhari treated the killer herdsmen with kid gloves and by the time he made up his mind to take drastic action against the bandits, it was a little too late. This, coupled with other flip-flops on a number of issues, has cost the president a good amount of goodwill, especially in the North Central.

But far from the outcome of 2019 polls, the Southwest and South East have started strategising on how to take over power in 2023- tribal politics at its best. Recall that the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, recently urged the people of Southwest to vote for President Buhari in the 2019 elections to guarantee a return of power to the region in 2023.

Without mincing words, Fashola said aside the massive investments by the Buhari administration on infrastructure across the country and in Southwest in particular, the Southwest zone would benefit more politically by voting for Buhari. Speaking in Yoruba language laced with proverbs, the minister said “Did you know that power is rotating to the Southwest after the completion of Buhari’s tenure if you vote for him in 2019? Your child cannot surrender her waist for an edifying bead and you will use the bead to decorate another child’s waist. A vote for Buhari in 2019 means a return of power to the Southwest in 2023. I am sure you will vote wisely.”

Curiously, the Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, recently told Ohaneze Ndigbo categorically that a vote for Buhari in 2019 is the shortest route to the Igbo presidency.

In Nigeria, tribal politics is the key. Most people in the South East have filed behind the PDP because of Peter Obi, the vice presidential candidate of the party, while people from the Southwest queuing behind the APC because of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. I have said it several times that the biggest beneficiary of the Buhari administration is the Southwest and not the North as widely believed. The juicy portfolios and agencies are headed by people from the zone. The Lagos-Ibadan highway has received special attention from this administration.

But come to think of it, must the presidency of Nigeria rotate between Hausa, Fulani, Yoruba and Igbo? What happened to the other over 300 tribes in Nigeria? Will it be a crime or an aberration if a Nupe, Idoma, Bajju, Jukun, Tarok, Urobho, Obudu, Yala or Itserikiri person becomes president in 2023? Are the best brains and leaders only found in Hausa, Fulani, Igbo or Yoruba?

It is time the minority tribes began to ask these pertinent questions. Leadership qualities are not found only in one tribe. Moreover, the sooner we do away with rotational presidency based on tribe and region the better for the country.

Like I always ask, how does Fashola being a super minister with three important portfolios affect Tunde the mechanic in Lagos or Ibadan?  How does the presidency being in the North now affect me?  At the same time, how does being the same tribe with the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Iris, stop the police from harassing me and demanding for bribe?

Appointments or the presidency, in most cases, is an elitist thing; they only affect the beneficiary’s immediate family, friends and cronies and not the whole tribe or religion as erroneously believed. It is time the minority tribes took their destiny in their own hands and gun for the highest job in the land.


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