December 11, 2023

Celebrating Excellence & Integrity

APC, Lawan, Tinubu & 2023: An Atiku of Faith

While Doctor Lawan is a fine gentleman with demonstrable intellectual capacity, any perception of imposition of a Northern candidate will severely test APC’s acceptability sore in the West, significantely robbing the party of its new found SW electoral dominance. Wholesale reversal of APC’s gains in the SW in 2023 will thus nullify whatever gains the party might have hoped for in the North by giving its presidential ticket to the core North. Add to that the fact that a suspicious South East, bewildered by the betrayal of SW by APC, may wholly reject the party, choosing instead to rally round Atiku, who at near 80, might not be keen on two terms, thereby expediting the realization of Igbo presidency. APC then would stand to loose on all sides

After 2 consecutive terms of President Buhari. In which the same Tinubu’s considerably well-resourced political machine played a key role, APC with Lawan on the ticket will be a hard sell in the 2023 SW. Now consider that the North vote will be shared by Atiku, Kwankaso and Lawan, should he be the final pick.

APC National Chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu announcing Doctor Ahmad Lawan as consensus candidate brings the ruling party to a final moment of reckoning. With Northern governors, key stakeholders in the NWC and other candidates taking exception, it will take President Buhari all the leadership genius he can muster to resolve this in a way that augurs well for the party in 2023. This piece is from the stand point that reason, collegial wisdom and a pragmatic interrogation of the issues will prevail if This is war. And that’s not just referring to the titanic clash of last-minute tactics & intrigues between the jostling egos of 23 aspirants. The fierce battle is for the very soul of Nigeria. Should APC get this wrong, it will not only set the party on an irreversible course of self- inflicted implosion, it will have drastic consequences on the corporate health of an already deeply wounded Nigeria and on the fragile hope that President Muhammadu Buhari and other leaders have worked so hard in the past few days to build among party faithful.

Somehow, Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the question of what epoch-making decision will be made about him momentarily, by Muhammadu Buhari, his most definitive political partner to date; by his party, and by an intrigue weary Nigeria at large, has become the defining imperative of the moment.

Profoundly strategic implications await, any which way stakeholders sway. We will attempt a clinical navigation of the pertinent tensions here.

Listen to this. Right now, this very minute, on a real time basis, sleep starved leaders who have been auspiciously placed by fate in the highly access-restricted situation room are monitoring the unfolding dynamics through the tense prisms of shrewdly peering bifocals. What will be monumentally tragic is if this compact but sacred bench of destiny shapers perfunctorily casualize matters of momentous national significance, choosing to be reflexively driven by petty politicking rather than muster the resilience, statesmanship, dispassion, empathy and unyielding patriotism that an historic moment like this calls for

First, the dire environmental contexts that are to shape the sustainable choices are stark before APC.

Take Owo, Ondo state. The gory sight of innocent worshippers gruesomely murdered, blood splattered all over the ancient pews of that sacred hall, the body count is just one small part of several such mushrooming slaughter slabs. Check the news update on your phone as your convoy drives into this raucous convention ground. Another bandit has just kidnapped someone, or a family, maybe, some hooded goons have just beheaded a whole village in the South East. You are not here for political jingoism today, or for that kind of petty, self-focused scheming that for 6 decades have brought our nation to utter ruin. This is war. Nigeria is at war! Forget Father Kukah. This is family talk. So, help me God. This writer is not just a Buhari fan. I am a dyed in the wool, forever sold, never and forever again to look back Buharist. So help me God. And in case that whole epithet sounds so nebulous that even you, party stalwart don’t know what it means, it goes way beyond perishable emotional or sentimental attachment to an aging General. A Buharist’s reason for investing centers around deeply ingrained connection to the values and the virtues that á certain Mai Gaskiya propagated so stedfastly and with such stoic resilience in many decades of globally applauded public life. Integrity, piety, modesty, unyielding incorruptibility and an enduring fixation with the human condition that made a war tested General weep for the nation on national TV.

So, back to APC’s environmental headaches, heading to 2023 polls. An unprecedented explosion of heinous crime is only the nightmare backdrop to unprecedented youth unemployment. Restive, deeply frustrated and disillusioned masses of youth further fueling a conundrum of crime, drugs and virulent social discontent.

Take the economy. Barely literate voters won’t understand the fine points of rationalization around the net derogatory effects in the last few years of Covid 19. They only know that a loaf of bread, big enough for one family’s breakfast jumped from, maybe N150 to N800. Millions of Nigerian daddies hardly make N1000 per day. A barely surviving middle class and a real sector that is only a severely anemic shadow of the kind of robust and vibrant industry that we know President Muhammadu Buhari dreamt about, prayed for and valiantly sought to birth into reality, has seen naira exchange rate jump from circa 200 to the dollar in 2015, to 600 naira and counting Why are these openly verifiable indices of a government’s performance so dismal for a team that am sure worked assiduously for far better outcomes? The deep and complex inter play of dynamics, rooted in an incredibly intricate admixture of complicated variables, and the monstrously convoluted character of which has taken all of 60+ years to coagulate, cannot be meaningfully interrogated at this moment. Nor should APC leaders find solace in the fact that despite such widespread pain at the retail level, there has indeed been significant gains at that foundational, sub structural level. This party perishes if, for a second, it indulges in thought of such dubious

self-comforting. For the umpteenth time, our bottom of the pyramid people, millions of hard grind everyday voters who will choose or reject whoever this convention validates, do not, cannot judge beyond the awfully painful material reality they are facing at the street level.

The core strategic tension that must define leaders ‘decision making in this convention therefore is who has that FORMIDABLE combination of requisite ELECTORAL values, to help bring APC back from very certain defeat, were a poorly reasoned choice made at this primary election.

No, there is not nearly enough genius in Bola Ahmed Tinubu or in anyone else for that matter, as to be cast as some out of this planet solution merchant. Why it will be a disaster for APC to pick Lawan over Tinubu is that when looked at, with all dispassion and from a holistic, all encompassing, cross cutting and integrative prism of analysis and electoral path finding, this enigmatic, sometimes annoyingly ambitious man brings to the table, and by far, the most lethal combination to trounce the globally infamous PDP.

Of core strategic significance, there is the delicate ethno-religious balancing that will, willy-nilly shape APC’s electoral fortune in 2023. Dynamics probably instigating the Lawan exigency. 11 Northern governors and Mr President, have already taken a crucially strategic step, when, in concert, they spoke out forcefully in favor of shifting the presidency south wards in 2023. While there are possibly adducible reasons to consider a Northern Muslim candidate, there is hardly anyone on the APC radar currently known to be seeking the ticket from the north, who has anything remotely close to the political heft of Atiku Abubakar, even as the menace of Kwankwasiya now finding some structure in NNPP, is also bound to further impact the aggregate Northern harvest for APC.

While Doctor Lawan is a fine gentleman with demonstrable intellectual capacity, any perception of imposition of a Northern candidate will severely test APC’s acceptability sore in th West, significantely robbing the party of its new found SW electoral dominance.

Wholesale reversal of APC’s gains in the SW in 2023 will thus nullify whatever gains the party might have hoped for in the North by giving its presidential ticket to the core North. After 2 consecutive terms of President Buhari. In which the same Tinubu’s considerably well-resourced political machine played a key role, the party will be a hard sell in the 2023 SW. Now consider that the North vote will be shared by Atiku, Kwankaso and Lawan, should he be the final pick.

Buhari and Tinubu working tenaciously through the pangs of birthing the synergy ignited a critically missing revolution in North South collaboration. That this essentially geo strategic revolution is still too young to yield break through electoral strength foor APC in South East and South South is graphically manifest that Rotimi Amaechi, an eminently capable man as well, has failed to exert electoral dominance in South South, even as South east contribution to APC electoral arsenal remains pathetically below actionable threshold. The lingering Igbo question remains a core strategic tension that must be resolved but to meaningfully plot Igbo presidency is not a sprint, to be hurriedly conceived on the eve of the primaries Importantly, were Dr. Lawan not sacrosanct, and God forbid that someone insists that he is, we need to pay close attention to tensions around the acceptability of Tinubu versus Osinbajo in both the South West And the North in the specific context of 2023. While Osinbajo and Tinubu may have some level of electoral parity in the South West due to the comfort that they are both a gain for SW into the presidency, there are certain electoral dynamics in the North that places Tinubu heads and shoulders above a Pastor Osinbajo across the Islamic strongholds of the North.

Here is the core strategic question on the issue of Osinbajo versus Tinubu acceptability in a predominantly Muslim Northern Nigeria. To win in 2023, APC cannot be coy about the stark choices it faces. Think very deeply about this: Exactly how will APC divine a winning electoral map around a top ranking pentecostal Pastor Osinbajo in a polity which has Northern Nigeria’s numerical invincibility as a core strategic determinant? And when that whole sprawling and monolithic geography is preponderantly Muslim in a polity in which primordial factors like tribe, tongue and religion outweighs other critical parameters among ward level voters; and APC’s formidable opponent is a core Northerner and Muslim, precisely what is that magical messaging that will unleash millions of North- East, North-West and North-Central voters on the polling booths in frenzied adulation of a certain Pastor Osinbajo? Politically emancipated Northern leaders and delegates may give the ticket to a very convivial Osinbajo, but how in the world does that translate to the critical mass APC would need in Northern Nigeria to contain a barrelling Alhaji Atiku Abubakar monster army?

Set that against the fact that Alhaji Tinubu is a widely known quantity at the retail level of Northern Nigeria. If cosmopolitan Tinubu does not exactly wear his Islamic faith as a badge, video clips and posters of him at Tawaf, at Umrah, at very many Iftars over very many years resonate far more among his Northern Muslim brethren. Andf do not be deceived, even if Tinubu’s resonance with the Northern faithful need be strengthened with an equally Northern and Muslim running mate, his electoral equity as APC candidate will not diminish one bit. A hugely cosmopolitan, highly diversified and religiously harmonious South West cannot be expected to lose passion one bit, for their native son to gain Aso Rock. If Buhari had a peculiar issue in 2014/2015 due to ceaseless false characterization by his political enemies. Tinubu has no such albatross in 2023.

Ranged against all the dynamics and the critical mix of variables, there is a clear ecosystem of assets in Tinubu’s favor that makes him by far APC’s most lethal electoral weapon for APC in 2023. If APC will be clear eyed, and will focus on empowering ferocious electability fire power, the core influencers must be leaders enough, patriotic enough and humble enough to refuse to be distracted at this point.

Forged in the fiery furnace of often fiercely scorching political warfare, the Tinubu mystique, like an extra-terrestrial ogre to which mere earthlings have no answer, has remained stubbornly dominant, with deeply rooted tentacles across critical electoral strongholds Even as some flaws are ascribed to him by his traducers, Tinubu is at once accountable, since 1999, for some of the nation’s most applauded advances in economic management, fiscal re-engineering, governance architecture & urban renewal. A man who grew IGR of one state from a modest value to trillion denominated value and brought increasing prosperity to a mega cosmopolis like Lagos, cannot but have the kind of nationwide brand equity that he enjoys. When push comes to shove in 2023, and when the main opponent is a certain Atiku Abubakar, the transformative properties of the Tinubu appeal will carry the day.

In the urgency of this moment, a key strategic question for APC, if it must dispassionately identify its most potent electoral path to decisively vanquishing a resurgent PDP, is whether on a pan Nigerian basis, Doctor Lawan or anyone else has Tinubu’s nationwide name recognition, his well-connected and nationally deployed political machine, his performance pedigree, his war chest and his battle tested campaign management acumen. Crucially, the sense of equity, justice and balance that will reside in a Muslim Tinubu winning the ticket in place of a Northern Muslim Lawan succeeding a Northern Muslim Buhari should assuge feelings, priming APC for victory in 2023.

Doctor Lawan himself has an historic opportunity to save Nigeria from certain crisis, the end of which no one may be able to predict right now. He can stand gallantly and reject a strange automatic ticket that from all dispassionate electoral calculations, is far from likely to see him become president in 2023.

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