On the two pre-2015 occasions he vied for the presidency of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari drew blank. Until he wised up after the futilities, Buhari had lived under the illusion that his famed cult-like followership in the Northern part of the country was cogent enough to make him president.
The stubborn fact, that no part of the country could go it alone was vehemently lost on Buhari himself and the radical egg heads made up of fringe politicians and apolitical retired bureaucrats who, in their cocooned arrogance, misled themselves into believing that the presidency was there for the taking.
Each time they needed to widen up and reach out to core political leaders of the South West in order to talk it over, make concessions, give something and take something as well as trade things over.
Buhari and those who constituted his inner circles felt emboldened that doing this simple, basic and inescapable political brinkmanship was an unnecessary and politically unwise concession since, in their foolhardy miscalculations, getting it, with or without partners, was simply a fait accompli.
It was this misjudgement that made the Tunde Bakare vice-presidential nomination possible. Buhari dared the Yoruba political establishment in his solo voyage, unilateral nomination decisions and going for the Bakare VP slot in 2011. He woefully failed and it dawned on him and his promoters that the Buhari-for-president project, as conceived, was unrealistic and thus unattainable.
Buhari ate the humble pie and wisely reached out to the right groups, agreed terms, made concessions, gave something and took something, ultimately leading to one of Nigeria’s most historical, compelling and successful mergers which defeated a sitting president, formed an all-inclusive government and went on to win re-election four years after.
Although the mutuality and gentlemanly terms that won over the Yoruba political establishment were not made public, it is safe to say that Buhari had demonstrated a commendable level of broadmindedness by conceding a reasonable number of ministerial and other executive positions in his first and second term appointments. The South West can also be said to have gotten a better deal, perhaps much more than any geo-political zone of the North in terms of citing of key and critical infrastructure dotting the region’s landscape today. The marriage which has helped to bring about the Buhari government had been worthwhile, to the extent that not even the most trenchant critic would argue otherwise.
As the Buhari government slopes down to the end of its second term, all eyes are now firmly fixed on whether the president will go the whole hog by respecting the last part of the agreement which is to support the presidential candidature of either Bola Ahmed Tinubu – the man who superintended the agreements which brought the South West into the fold or anyone that may be agreed upon by the Tinubu group.
I understand that the calculations are no longer the same. Buhari has the power of incumbency and can torpedo any agreement if the political hawks and later-day men of power who have succeeded in pocketing the president succeed in changing his mindset, even when doing so attracts its own very unpalatable consequences to the future retention of the advantages which the merger conferred and successfully worked out.
The president is being lured by the personal interests of his close associates who have become powerful as a result of the power they now wield. They are alleged to have succeeded in controlling the mind of the president within the party hierarchy and the government and are working tirelessly to sabotage the original conditions and terms which gave the contraption the teeth to bite in 2015.
It will be ill-advisable, illogical and even imprudent for these terms to be thrown to the dogs simply because the powerful men of today, who, ironically benefitted from the ingenuity and superior political strategy of the Asiwaju and the other progressive elements within the fold, to corner power, not because it is logical and in the best interest of the country and its future stability but because they have, overnight transformed into big boys and players in the corridors of power.
The South West remains the cornerstone in today’s and future political cooperation to keep the country stable and indivisible. Recent events in the South East in particular and the risks they portend for the survival of Nigeria must sound the red flag that if the current template is roughened, Nigeria will be shaken by the antics of the criminal separatist movements that are daily gaining relevance. The implication is that if care is not taken and if the relative cohesion of the country is mismanaged on the altar of the ambitions of these powerful interlopers, there may not be a country to govern, or at best, there will just be a nation at war in virtually every part to contend with.
There is the need to further knit this country on the fulcrum of sensitivity to its fault-lines, appreciation of its diversity and regard to its current shaky foundation. Anything that could exacerbate tension or knock heads across the zones especially with the friends that have become irreplaceable and inestimable in advancing the cause of democracy and unity of the country should be avoided at all costs.
If Buhari wants history to be kind to him and to preserve that kindness, he should stand by the principles of the cooperation that brought him to power. Just like in 2015, the same doctrine of discussions and engagements with the same Tinubu-led elements must be resorted to, to arrive at a formula to keep Nigeria one and truly democratic and indissoluble.
Ahmed-BK wrote in from Gesse III, Birnin Kebbi, Kebbi State.