Will The South-East Have A Place In A Tinubu Presidency?

Will the south-East have a place in a Tinubu presidency?

By Rafiu S. Owonikoko

In about 15 days, Nigerians will again troop to polling stations across the country to elect a new leader that will take over from President Muhammadu Buhari, who is billed to leave office on the 29th of May, 2023.

The election promises to be an interesting one, with lots of intrigues, as they are already playing out with fire works across board. It is also going to be the battle of old allies and friends turned foes, as the three front running candidates, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Mr. Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP), were at one time or the other united in same parties for political contest.

The above, however is not the focus of this piece, but rather an overview of what may play out on February 25, 2023, as Nigerians return to the polls for what may probably be the most important election since the return to democratic rule in 1999. Most important because Nigerians, all over the country, are obviously yearning for a new beginning, a new order and a fresh breath in the affairs of the country after the almost eight years of the locust-like administration of President Buhari, during which Nigerians were pushed to the limits and currently gasping for air.

The candidate of the APC, Asiwaju Tinubu, off course an old political warhorse, who has been reputed for too many things except being God, is no doubt at pole position to come out victorious in the election, if current permutations and the seeming ‘overwhelming’ support he is believed to have accross the country, especially in the north, South-West, parts of the South-South is anything to go about, believing the South-East will go for one of their own, Obi.

With APC in charge of majority of states in the country, it becomes easier to actually guess that Tinubu is the undisputable frontrunner for the February 25 presidential election, especially with the national spread of states believed to be in his favour.

However, this supposed national spread and acceptability may potentially be Tinubu’s undoing, as there are indications that it may have thrown up a rather disdainful attitude of the candidate in his relationship and or attitude towards the South-East geopolitical zone.

For many, it is an outright contempt, laced with arrogance for Tinubu, just like Buhari, to believe that he can do without a zone as important as the South-East in his quest to became Nigeria’s president.

To start with, Nigerians still recall that during the build-up to the presidential primaries of the APC, Tinubu, in what he called consultations, visited every state in five of the country’s six geopolitical zones except the South-East. Though one maybe tempted to say he avoided the zone because there were other aspirants eyeing the same ticket as him from the zone, the excuse, however, does not hold water, as there were aspirants also from most of the zones he visited, including his own South-West, where his known allies and proteges contested against him.

For many, Tinubu failed to visit the South-East for consultation because of his arrogant believe that the zone does not matter when numbers are the issues at stake! For him, he will rather concentrate on areas where their numbers will add to his chances of clinching the ticket and eventually the presidency.

Ticket safely in the bag, Tinubu, once again displayed his contempt for the South-East in composition of his presidential campaign council without any of the very competent and cerebral South-Easterners at the forefront of the leadership of the Presidential Campaign Council (PCC). A cursory look at the PCC composition will show that south-easterners were relegated to Zonal and state roles mostly, whereas persons of northern and south-western extraction were given prominent roles at the campaign council.

Even on the campaign train, Tinubu has chosen to poke ceaselessly at the zone’s best shot so far at the presidency, Peter Obi on their soil, describing him as Peter that betrayed Jesus or calling him ‘my tenant in Lagos’, amongst several ridiculing references to Obi.

It is believed in many circles that Obi represents the collective aspiration and desire of the South-East to ascend Nigeria’s presidency and as such the symbol of the zone, which makes it improper for any candidate desirous of their votes to intentionally speak about him with such contempt and arrogance!

Perhaps, it would have been more reasonable for Tinubu to market himself and why he is the man for the job and not their son instead of ridiculing and casting aspersions on him, thereby destroying their collective psyche as a people that are not worthy of the highest office in the land.

The obvious relegation of the South-East to the background by Tinubu and his handlers, to say the least, is shocking because those who were conversant with his eight years in office as governor of Lagos State will attest to the fact that he worked with every major tribe in the country, appointing what looked more like a nationalist cabinet, with likes of Ben Akabueze holding the Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning for eight years.

It will be surprising to think that this is the new Tinubu, a Tinubu that will damn a whole geopolitical zone and relegate them to the background, not minding the several rising stars from the zone that can add positive flavour to his campaign and his presidency, if he happens to win. This is a zone that has produced great academics, professionals in every field of human endeavour and bright young men in key sectors of the economy.

Whatever the issue is; seeming arrogance which he has displayed severally on campaign grounds and other outings, contempt, which have become very obvious even before he got the ticket or mistrust, which obviously must have been erroneous and untenable, Asiwaju Tinubu must retrace his steps and give the South-East its due recognition if he is to be seen as a true nationalist and not another sectional and clanish leader that will continue with the nepotistic inclination of the fast fading Buhari administration!

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